Man arrested after suspicious packages were found at foreign consulates and embassies

Pauline Gross
January 10, 2019

Police said the packages contained asbestos, once a popular building material that can cause cancer and scaring of the lungs.

The 48-year-old man was arrested at his Shepparton home on Wednesday night and charged with sending risky articles to be carried by a postal service.

The AFP said assistance from Australia Post had been "crucial to the outcome of the investigation".

He was charged with sending unsafe articles to be carried by a postal service and has been remanded in custody following a Melbourne Magistrates' Court hearing today.

The man is expected to appear before Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning.

The packages were believed to contain an unidentified substance sourced from the man's home at Shepparton, about 200km (125 miles) north of Melbourne, police said.

Avan made no application for bail and was remanded to reappear at court on March 4.

DFAT said in a statement it had warned all diplomatic missions in Australia to be tired of opening mail on January 8, after learning that suspicious packages were sent to three embassies and consulates in Canberra and Sydney on January 7.

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Police did not release the suspect's name.

There has been no evidence yet that the packages were unsafe, but police Thursday said forensic testing was continuing to determine their exact contents.

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.

It came two days after Sydney's Argentinian consulate was partially evacuated following reports of a suspicious substance.

They identified all the intended recipients and were working to recover the remaining packages, but said there was no ongoing risk to the public.

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

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

"The note advised missions to handle mail in accordance with their own government's protocols and instructions", Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

Other reports by GizPress

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