Asbestos contained in suspicious packages sent to consulates and embassies, police allege

| 10.01,19. 06:06 PM |

Asbestos contained in suspicious packages sent to consulates and embassies, police allege

Photo: Firefighters took hazardous material bags into the South Korean consulate on Wednesday. (AAP: James Ross)

Photo: Police searched a Shepparton property where it is believed Mr Avan was arrested. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Rhiannon Tuffield)

A Victorian man has been charged after dozens of packages, which police allege contained asbestos, were sent to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

ictoria Police and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested 49-year-old Savas Avan at his Shepparton home in northern Victoria last night.

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

Police alleged Mr Avan sent 38 parcels containing asbestos to consulates and embassies in the three cities on January 7.

In an earlier statement, the AFP said it believed the substance in the packages was sourced from his Shepparton home.

Police said they had recovered 29 of the packages and planned to have them forensically tested.

Victoria Police said on Wednesday that "a number" of consulate offices had received suspicious packages.

The US, Pakistani, New Zealand and Swiss consulates confirmed to the ABC they had received suspicious parcels in the mail.

Emergency services workers were also seen going into the Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and South Korean consulates.

"There is no ongoing threat to the general public," both police forces said in a joint statement.

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

"The assistance of [Australia Post] has been crucial to the outcome of this investigation."

If convicted of the charge laid against him, Mr Avan could face up to 10 years in prison.

Shepparton home searched

Officers from the AFP were seen searching a Shepparton home on Callister Street today, where it is believed Mr Avan was arrested.

Neighbours, who initially thought the police presence was a drug raid, told the ABC they were shocked by the arrest.

"Late last night I went down to the supermarket and when I [came] back there [were] eight or nine cars across the road and a whole heap of police there milling around like they were going to do a raid," a neighbour named David said.

"I went and got my wife and then when we came back they'd all gone.

"About half an hour later they [came] back and there was a divvy van around the corner.

"It looked like TV actually like one of those police shows … we haven't seen [this kind of activity] around here before.

"Occasionally you might see one or two [police] cars here but I've seen nothing like that before around here."

Another neighbour named Gordo described Mr Avan as "a loner".

"I spoke to him once and that was it, but I've never seen him again. He was like a loner thing, like he wanted to keep on his own," he said.

"I always thought something's not right there, because I walk [my] dog every morning past there, and he's a loner.

"I knew something was weird with this guy because he's never out, never watered his lawns, nothing like that, that's why I kept away."

The matter is due to return to court on March 4.


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