Israeli Arab student’s body flown home

Middle East
Aya Maasarwe Image copyright Aya Maasarwe / Instagram
Image caption Aya Maasarwe had been studying at Melbourne’s La Trobe University

The family of an Israeli Arab student whose murder has shocked Australia have left the nation with her body, hours after her father gave a moving tribute.

Aya Maasarwe, 21, died in Melbourne last week. Police have since charged a man with her rape and murder.

Ms Maasarwe’s death has led to much public anger, and renewed debate about women’s safety in Australia.

Her father, Saeed Maasarwe, said his daughter had taught him “to see the light in the dark”.

He and other relatives travelled to Australia last week, where they attended vigils in Melbourne alongside thousands of mourners.

The family left Melbourne on Tuesday with several tributes from members of the public, local media reported. Ms Maasarwe’s funeral is expected to take place on Wednesday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Saeed Maasarwe travelled to Australia after his daughter’s killing

Speaking through tears on Monday, Mr Maasarwe said he wanted to honour his daughter’s life and positivity, as he urged the world to become more safe.

“Look in the stars just to see the light in the dark. This I studied from Aya, not from me,” he told reporters.

“I wish all the people see the light and go to the light. Don’t be in the dark.”

He added: “We want to make the world more peace, more safety, more beautiful and more smiles.”

The family have asked the media to spell her name, Aya – to reflect that she was a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship – and not Aiia, which officials had been using, based on her passport.

Mr Maasarwe’s words drew many messages of support from the public.

Ms Maasarwe was a student of Chinese and English at a university in Shanghai. She had been on an exchange programme at Melbourne’s La Trobe University.

She was attacked at night while speaking to her sister on the phone, authorities said.

A 20-year-old Australian man, Codey Herrmann, is charged with her murder. He will next face a court hearing in June.

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