Fri, Jan 11, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Australian police charge man over dubious parcels

NO THREAT:Police have recovered 29 of the 38 packages allegedly sent by Savas Avan, who is facing up to 10 years in jail if convicted of sending dangerous articles in the mail

Reuters, SYDNEY

Savas Avan, who was charged with sending suspicious packages to embassies across Australia, appears at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday in a court sketch by artist Paul Tyquin.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Australian police yesterday charged a 49-year-old man for sending as many as 38 packages containing a hazardous material to diplomatic embassies and consulates across the country.

More than a dozen foreign offices on Wednesday received suspicious packages, including the US and British missions in Melbourne.

The man, named as Savas Avan, was charged with sending dangerous articles through a postal service, an offense that carries up to 10 years in jail, the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

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

Police, who have recovered 29 of the parcels, said they would intercept the rest. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

The parcels appeared to contain plastic bags of concrete and asbestos, with “asbestos” written on at least one of the bags, Australian media reported on Wednesday.

One firefighter was seen outside the South Korean consulate carrying a large plastic bag with the word “asbestos” written on it, the Age newspaper said.

Other missions in Melbourne reported by media to have received suspicious packages included those of Denmark, Egypt, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand. Reuters could not confirm the reports.

Avan is to appear in court in March.

There was no ongoing threat to the general public, the Australian Federal Police said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had sent an e-mail to all diplomatic missions in Canberra this week, after three offices in the capital and Sydney received suspicious packages.

It subsequently sent similar advice to missions elsewhere.

“The note advised missions to handle mail in accordance with their own government’s protocols and instructions,” a department spokesman said.

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