Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Victorian man charged over suspect embassy packages

A firefighter carries a hazardous material bag into the Korean Consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday A firefighter carries a hazardous material bag into the Korean Consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday
Ellis Copeland | 10 January, 2019, 22:46

7 News reporter Cassie Zervos told Nick McCallum the Australian Federal Police arrested Avan last night.

The man sent 38 parcels to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, with a substance that is suspected to have come from his Shepparton home, according to authorities.

Savas Avan, 49, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court this afternoon, charged with sending 38 risky articles in the post; a Commonwealth offence.

Emergency services workers were seen at the US, Greek, French, Italian, Indian, New Zealand, Pakistani, Spanish, South Korean and Swiss consulates yesterday, with hazardous material alerts issued for more than a dozen locations.

Police said they have identified all the intended recipients and have put procedures in place to recover the outstanding packages.

Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police will allege the substance in the packages was sourced from his Shepparton home.

The packages were not believed to be unsafe, but police, fire crews and forensic teams were urged to use breathing apparatus as they documented and double- or triple-bagged the materials for further testing.

There was no ongoing threat to the public, authorities said.

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The first parcel was received at the Argentinian consulate in Sydney on Monday and contained powder in clear plastic bags inside an envelope.

He was taken into custody hours after the discovery of numerous suspicious packages which triggered a string of emergency responses across Melbourne, prompting the evacuation and closure of some consulates.

The powder, contained in clear plastic bags within an envelope, was subsequently deemed not risky.

At least two consulates in Melbourne did not contact authorities about packages until they received an email from the Australian government.

Greek vice-consul Georgia Botsiou told SBS Greek radio it had received the package on Friday afternoon.

Around 10 diplomatic missions, mostly in Melbourne, on Wednesday reported the delivery of suspicious packages, some of them labelled "asbestos".

"Similar advice was subsequently provided to consulates around Australia".

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