Australia police make arrest in Israeli student murder case

People lay flowers in tribute where the body of Israeli exchange student Aiia Maasarwe was found in Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia, on Jan 17, 2019.
People lay flowers in tribute where the body of Israeli exchange student Aiia Maasarwe was found in Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia, on Jan 17, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia police on Friday (Jan 18) arrested a man in relation to the murder of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe, some two days after her body was found in Melbourne.

The 21-year-old was killed on the way home from a comedy show in Melbourne just after midnight on Wednesday, with her body found by passers-by in bushes near a tram stop several hours later.

A 20-year-old man from the outer suburbs of Melbourne was arrested at 11.20am on Friday, police said.

"Homicide Squad detectives have arrested a man as part of the ongoing investigation into the death of Aiia Maasarwe," Victoria Police said in a statement.

"Police would like to thank the public for their assistance with the investigation."

Police on Thursday said Ms Maasarwe was killed in a late-night attack while she was speaking on the phone with her sister.

They described the murder as a "horrendous, horrific attack".

 

Campaigners on Friday called for an end to the "epidemic of violence against women" ahead of a vigil in memory of Ms Maasarwe.

Several memorials are to be held on Friday, including one where mourners dressed in black will hold a silent vigil on the steps of the Victorian state parliament.

Another memorial plans to fill the 86 tram, which Ms Maasarwe was believed to have ridden on her way home, with red roses that were reportedly her favourite flowers.

Some of the organisers were the same ones who organised a vigil for Ms Eurydice Dixon, a 22-year-old local comedian who was killed in a Melbourne park last year as she was going home.

"We're as angry as we were last time," organiser Jessamy Gleeson told Melbourne's Herald Sun on Friday, adding more needed to be done to keep women safe.

"We shouldn't have these one-off vigils. There needs to be continued engagement and conversation about violence against women."

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter on Friday, calling the crime "an incredibly shocking, despicable and tragic attack".

"My heart goes out to Aiia's family and friends and everyone whose life she touched."