Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Australia cops examine packages left at consulates, including India’s

Victorian man arrested for allegedly sending suspicious packages to embassies Australian police arrest man over suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates
Patty Aguilar | 10 January, 2019, 17:33

An Australian man was charged Thursday with sending dozens of packages believed to contain asbestos to embassies and consulates around the country.

The man, named as Savas Avan, was charged with sending risky articles through a postal service, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement on Thursday.

Avan appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

A man was arrested in the Victorian town of Shepparton, with police suspecting that the material sent to diplomatic missions came from his home.

Several foreign diplomatic missions were evacuated in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra on Wednesday after they received packages containing suspicious substances.

He was apprehended last night at his home, with images obtained by 9News showing police in hazmat gear assessing the suspect's home.

India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States consulates were among a number across Melbourne and Canberra targeted with suspicious packages yesterday, sparking an emergency "hazardous material" response and some evacuations.

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Avan, who was originally said by police to be 48 years old, will next appear in court in March.

"Police have identified all intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages", the statement said.

A worker at the Pakistani consulate in Melbourne opened one of the packages about 10am on Wednesday. The Victoria state police said on January 9 that they believe the incidents are targeted, and that the general public is not at great risk.

Police have recovered 29 packages so far, with forensic testing to be undertaken to determine the nature of the substance.

"The maximum penalty for the offence the man has been charged with is 10 years imprisonment", the statement added.

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

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs had raised the alarm with all diplomatic missions in Canberra on Tuesday after similar incidents were reported at offices in Sydney and the Australian Capital Territory.

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