Australia police charge man with Israeli student murder

Sydney (AFP) –


Australian police on Saturday charged a man with the murder of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe, some three days after her body was found in Melbourne.

The 21-year-old was speaking to her sister on the phone when she was attacked just after midnight on Wednesday, on the way home from a comedy show.

Her body was found in bushes near a tram stop by passers-by several hours later.

Victoria police, who have described the attack as "horrific", arrested the 20-year-old man on Friday in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. He is due to appear in court on Saturday.

"Homicide Squad detectives have charged a man with murder following the death of Aiia Maasarwe," police said in a statement.

The charge "follows an extensive investigation into Aiia's death following the discovery of her body" they added.

Maasarwe was killed after getting off a tram near the university where she was completing a year-long exchange.

Hundreds of people dressed in black held several vigils in Melbourne for Maasarwe on Friday, including filling the 86 tram, which she was believed to have ridden on her way home, with red roses that were reportedly her favourite flowers.

Her father Saeed broke down at the crime scene Friday, where dozens of flowers and messages from the public were left nearby in support.

"I feel very, very sad from one side, but from another side, when I get this support and this help -- from the people, from the community, from the police -- it makes the suffering to feel a little more better," he told reporters.

"I want to be with her for more time, but someone decided I cannot be."