Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe who was killed in Melbourne on January 17, 2019. Picture: Instagram
Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe who was killed in Melbourne on January 17, 2019. Picture: Instagram

Grief-stricken family’s anger at Australia

Security around La Trobe University's Bundoora campus has been increased and police are "saturating" the area after Israeli student Aiia Maasawre was brutally murdered on Wednesday morning, but the victim's family says police aren't doing enough.

In an interview with the ABC, one of the murdered teen's uncles expressed "disappointment" at authorities in Australia.

"We are very disappointed in the authorities," he said. "They bring us a cadaver. I cannot believe it."

The expression of grief comes as the person responsible remains on the run.

It's been three days since the 21-year-old's body was found a short walk from a tram stop and not far from the safety of the campus where she lived.

Ms Maasawre was attacked at about 12.10am, less than a kilometre from her home. Her body was dumped in shrubs near a shopping centre and discovered by workers early on Wednesday morning.

The few clues police have so far shared suggest Ms Maasawre was stalked from the No. 86 tram by a man who raped and murdered her. He then discarded clothes, including a black hat and a black and grey T-shirt.

Police say it's likely the victim's killer was covered in blood, and that somebody knows who he is.

As the hunt escalates, a vigil is being planned for Ms Maasawre tonight. Mourners will gather on the steps of Melbourne's Parliament House to remember the young woman whose life was taken too soon and to protest against another senseless, violent attack on a woman walking home.

 

 

Police are hunting for the man who murdered Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe.
Police are hunting for the man who murdered Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe.

 

Organiser Jessamy Gleeson, who helped thousands of people gather for a vigil for murdered Melbourne woman Eurydice Dixon last year, said it was important Melburnians stood together.

"None of us would want to be doing this, to be organising something like this; it was just a point of creating a space and making visible the victims who are made invisible far too quickly," she told news.com.au.

"That's the point. It's a way of making things visible."

One way it's hoped to achieve that is by asking those in attendance to wear black and stand out against the backdrop of the Parliament steps.

Dr Gleeson said the vigil will last two hours, from 6pm to 8pm, and people are welcome to come and go as they please. There will be no speeches or music, just silent reflection.

Superintendent Tony Ryan said yesterday that police were doing everything possible to catch the killer.

"We've got an ongoing effort to saturate the area as much as we possibly can," he said.

"We've got uniform cars, we're supported by the operational response unit, we've got detectives, we've got our community police, we've got Transit working on the tram lines.

 

The floral tribute continues to grow as the community mourns the murder of Aiia Maasarwe. Picture: Nicole Garmston
The floral tribute continues to grow as the community mourns the murder of Aiia Maasarwe. Picture: Nicole Garmston

 

"As part of our security in the area we'll conduct an audit on it and see if we can get some immediate improvements."

One possibility police have not yet ruled out is that Ms Maasarwe's sister was speaking to her when she was attacked. Her uncle Rame Massarwe said the pair were on FaceTime when "her phone fell".

Homicide detectives are releasing CCTV images of Ms Maasarwe from Tuesday night.
Homicide detectives are releasing CCTV images of Ms Maasarwe from Tuesday night.

"She was talking to her sister and seemed OK, but then her phone fell and then she heard different voices," Mr Masarwe told the Herald Sun.

Before she was murdered, Ms Maasarwe had attended a comedy show in North Melbourne.

Detectives say it is likely Ms Masarwe had been travelling on the route 86 tram from Docklands.

 

A hat left near the victim’s body.
A hat left near the victim’s body.

Victoria Police released CCTV images of Ms Maasarwe which shows the clothing she was wearing that night, in the hope someone saw her and can help police track her exact movements.

The T-shirt and cap found discarded at the scene are "suspicious", police say. The black hat has '1986' printed on it and the T-shirt has a grey body and black short sleeves.

A grey and black T-shirt found at Bundoora.
A grey and black T-shirt found at Bundoora.

Another of Ms Masarwe's uncles, Abed Katane, told Israeli news outlet Haaretz the family was in shock.

"She was an excellent student, full of life, and was in a country that was not dangerous at all, to say the least. And despite that, we get this incredibly painful news," he said.

"It's the kind of thing you never expect."

 

- with Ben Graham



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