Man arrested over killing of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe in Australia

A 20-year-old man has been arrested over the death of an Israeli student who was killed while walking home late at night this week in Australia.

Aiia Maasarwe was killed as she spoke on the phone to her sister, while on the way home from an evening out.

Her body was found by passers-by in Bundoora, Melbourne, early on Wednesday morning at about the same time as her sister called Australian police.

Police believe she was followed when she got off a tram near her university before being attacked.

No other details about the man being held by police have been released.

Aiia Maasarwe was on a six-month study programme

Ms Maasarwe had been on the phone with her sister, who heard the phone fall and voices.

The 21-year-old was a student at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. She was on a six-month study abroad programme as part of her degree at Shanghai University.

She was on the phone with her sister when she was attacked
She was on the phone with her sister when she was attacked

On the night she was killed, she had been to a comedy gig and was less than 1km (0.7 miles) from her home.

It is the second time in seven months a woman has been killed on her way home from a night out in Melbourne.

Tributes have been left where she was found
Tributes have been left where her body was found

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said: “Our presumption is that this was a random attack and opportunistic.”

Officers are conducting forensic tests on a baseball cap and a black and grey t-shirt which they believe were left by the attacker.

Police think this cap belonged to the perpetrator
Police think this cap belonged to the attacker

DI Stamper said: “There will be someone out there who has seen a person wearing this clothing, and we really need them to come forward and provide us with that information.

“We have a grieving family who has had to fly halfway across the world under the most horrific circumstances and we want to be able to give them some answers.”

Police believe this t-shirt was left by the person responsible for her murder
This t-shirt was also left at the scene

Officers appealed for information from anyone who saw anything out of place in the area, which is close to the university, between 11pm and 1am, or who travelled on the 86 tram that night.

The Israeli embassy in Australia issued a statement confirming her death and offering its support to the family.

Police are investigating
Police at the scene of the attack

Her uncle Rame Maasarwe told The Age: “She’s positive, she likes to have fun, she’s a very friendly person you know. She’s a good sister.

“She liked to discover new things, see new places. She travelled all over the world.”

He also said the family was shocked by the news, and had believed Australia to be safe.

Some of her friends from university, who asked not to be named, described her as an exceptional student who was positive and kind.

Aiia Maasarwe was walking home from a night out when she was killed
Ms Maasarwe had been on a night out to a comedy club

On Ms Maasarwe’s Instagram profile, she had documented her world travels, including some highlights since arriving in Australia.

Her bio on the site read: “The best is yet to come.”

In June, Eurydice Dixon, 22, was followed as she walked home from performing at a comedy club in Melbourne. She was sexually assaulted and killed in a park.

Her death provoked an outpouring of grief and 5,000 people attended a vigil for her.

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