Australia arrests suspect for murder of Israeli girl | News | DW | 18.01.2019
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Australia arrests suspect for murder of Israeli girl

Australian police have arrested a 20-year-old man over the murder and rape of an Israeli exchange student in Melbourne, officials said. The student was attacked while walking home after a comedy show.

A suspect has been arrested over the death of an Israeli woman, Australian police said on Friday, as mourners prepared to hold a vigil for the murdered Aiia Maasarwe in Melbourne.

Police said the suspect was male and 20 years old, but did not release any details.

The body of the 21-year-old Maasarwe was found by passers-by near La Trobe University early on Wednesday. According to investigators, Maasarwe had attended a comedy show on the previous evening and then took a tram towards the campus. She was walking home while on the phone with her sister in Israel when the attack took place. The sister reported hearing the phone hit the ground.

Authorities believe the attacker chose Maasarwe at random. Commenting on the attack from a visit to Fiji, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the woman was also raped.

"I just want to begin by saying how devastated I am by the despicable, tragic and violent killing and rape of Aiia Maasarwe," Morrison told reporters.

"Every woman in Australia - every person in Australia - should be able to travel home in safety. I can't begin to think of what I could say to her family," he added.

Investigators at the scene of the Melbourne murder (picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Postles)

The alleged attacker was detained two days after passers-by found Maasarwe's body

Father visits the shrine

Maasarwe grew up in the mostly Arab-city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye in northwestern Israel. She had studied Chinese in Shanghai and moved to Melbourne to study English. Her father runs a business in China, according to Australian media.

The father, Saeed Maasarve, traveled to Melbourne and visited the impromptu memorial at the murder scene on Thursday. Thousands of people are expected to attend the vigil later on Friday.

Maasarwe is only the latest young woman to be killed on the streets in Melbourne in recent years. The 22-year-old comedian Eurydice Dixon was killed seven months ago, with Masa Vukotic, 17, and Jill Meagher, 29, losing their lives in 2015 and 2012.

In the wake of the most recent murder, Prime Minister Morrison said the government would announce a new "action plan" to fight violence against women. The authorities had already earmarked 350 million Australian dollars ($251.6 million, €220.8 million) to combat the problem.

dj/rc (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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