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Vigil for student Aiia Maasarwe as family calls for her quick return

“We stayed on the line for 72 minutes,” she told us. Aiia was found near La Trobe University in the city’s north, just 1km from her home.

She had taken a tram home late on Tuesday after a comedy show.

Police have now charged 20-year-old Codey Herrmann with rape and murder.

Codey Herrmann arrives at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday after being charged with the rape and murder of Aiia Maasarwe.

Codey Herrmann arrives at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday after being charged with the rape and murder of Aiia Maasarwe.Credit:Paul Jeffers

About 1000 people gathered in solidarity outside the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq mosque in the town’s city centre on Saturday, calling to bring Aiia’s body home, and in protest of violence against women across the globe.

“The Land Wants Aiia Back,” read some of the placards, with others demonstrating to stop violence against women.

Hundreds gathered in solidarity outside a mosque in Baqa al-Gharbiyye on Saturday, calling to bring Aiia Maasarwe’s body back home.

Hundreds gathered in solidarity outside a mosque in Baqa al-Gharbiyye on Saturday, calling to bring Aiia Maasarwe’s body back home.

Speaking to press outside the mosque, Noor promised her family would not stay silent. “We are angry and mad… We will fight with all our strength and energy we have left to see justice.”

Community members called on the Israeli and Australian prime ministers to quicken Aiaa’s arrival home, chanting: “We need Aiia home,” and “We are all Aiia’s sister’s, Aiia is the daughter of all of us.”

Aiia Maasarwe was killed near a tram stop in Bundoora, in Melbourne's north.

Aiia Maasarwe was killed near a tram stop in Bundoora, in Melbourne’s north.

Morsi Abu Moch, mayor of the city, said the community was worried because about 200 other girls from Baqa al-Gharbiyye studied abroad.

“We thought Australia would be safe. But this wasn’t the case,” he said.

Still, Mayor Abu Moch thanked the Australian people for their gracious attitude and humanitarian efforts they had shown to Aiia’s father, Said, who is currently in Australia waiting to bring Aiia’s body back to Israel.

On Friday, a silent vigil was held in Melbourne on the steps of Parliament House ahead of a series of demonstrations over violence against women.

The Age, News, 18/01/2019. Photo by Justin McManus. Vigil at Parliament House for murdered student Aiia Maasarwe. Mourners bring flowers at stops on 86 tram to be delivered to the scene of the murder in Bundoora for a vigil.

The Age, News, 18/01/2019. Photo by Justin McManus. Vigil at Parliament House for murdered student Aiia Maasarwe. Mourners bring flowers at stops on 86 tram to be delivered to the scene of the murder in Bundoora for a vigil.Credit:Justin McManus

The Baqa al-Gharbiyye community has chosen to rename the town’s main square in Aiia’s name.

Ms Masaarwe’s body remains with the Victorian Coroner.

A spokesperson for the Australian Prime Minister’s office said on Saturday the coroner was working as fast as possible for the family, and that the office had offered any support necessary to the Victorian government to aid a speedy repatriation.

It has not yet been announced when she will be returned to her family in Baqa al-Gharbiyye.

The young student was always smiling, her sister told the media. “It was the last thing she ever did. She went to a comedy club to laugh,” Noor said.

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