A Shepparton man, named Savas Avan has been arrested for allegedly dispatching 38 suspicious parcels to embassies across Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney through Australian post.
Police have so far recovered 29 of these packages, including the one that was sent to the diplomatic office of Greece in Melbourne.
Staff at the Greek Consulate received an envelope sent from Shepparton and addressed to them. “It was obvious that the envelope did not contain any documents,” said Greek Consulate vice-consul Georgia Botsiou, standing in for Consul General Dimitris Mihalopoulos. “We opened it and it appeared to be suspicious. We immediately sealed it in an air-tight bag and put it in a safe place.”
The authorities were alerted, however the Consulate was not immediately evacuated as the envelope had been received outside office hours and there was no immediate threat to the public. “Most employees left and only the security officers stayed behind until the suspicious parcel left the Consulate,” Ms Botsiou told Neos Kosmos, adding that only another employee and herself had come in contact with the parcel.
She gave assurances that all employees are well and the Consulate is operating as usual.
Arrest made last night
The 48-year-old man was arrested at his home on Wednesday night as part of the police investigation into the incidents. He has been charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service, contrary to section 471 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
He was scheduled to appear before Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Thursday morning. The maximum penalty for the offence the man has been charged with is 10 years imprisonment.
It will be alleged in court that the man sent 38 parcels to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, with a substance suspected to have been sourced from his Shepparton home.
Police have so far recovered 29 of these packages, with forensic testing to be undertaken on them to determine the exact composition of the material in them.
Police have identified intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages. There is no ongoing threat to the general public.
The assistance of the Australian Post has been crucial to the outcome of this investigation.
Further details regarding this investigation will be provided when it is appropriate to do so.