SYDNEY — Australian police arrested a man after 38 packages allegedly containing asbestos were sent to foreign consulates in the cities of Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
Savas Avan, 48, was arrested at his home in Shepparton, Victoria state, on Wednesday night, and charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service.
He appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday to face the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Commonwealth prosecutor Matthew Simpson told the court the deliveries contained asbestos.
Avan, who was not required to enter a plea, did not apply for bail. He will appear again on March 4.
Around 10 diplomatic missions, mostly in Melbourne, on Wednesday reported the delivery of suspicious packages, some of them labelled "asbestos." The missions included those from the United States, Britain, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Israel, Switzerland and Greece.
The Greek Consulate General on St Kilda Road and the Pakistani consulate in Albert Park both received suspect packages but did not contact authorities straight away.
Greek vice-consul Georgia Botsiou told SBS Greek radio it had received the package on Friday afternoon.
"It didn't have a return address. Written on the top was 'samples' and because it didn't have a return address and without it having a note inside, we thought it was suspicious and, because of that, we isolated it from the start" Ms Botsiou said, translated from Greek.
Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police said in a joint statement they will allege the substance in the packages was sourced from the man's home.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)