The family of an Arab-Israeli student found dead in Melbourne have urged Australian authorities to bring her killer to justice.
Relatives in Israel described 21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe as a gifted student who was enjoying her time in Australia.
“She’s beautiful, she’s clever – that’s why I don’t believe what’s happened to her,” her uncle Ahmad Maasarwe told the ABC.
Crying, he asked people in Melbourne to help police find his niece’s killer.
“We suffer as a family if we don’t know who did this thing, and if he will not be punished, this will be too much suffering for us,” he said.
Another uncle, Abed Kittani, said the family was struggling to deal with the news.
“The feeling of the family is very, very bad,” he said. “The mental state of the mother and the sister is the worst it can be.”
“The tragedy and the horror isn’t easy to bear.
“This happened very far away. How did this family end up facing this tragedy?”
Mr Kittani said Ms Maasarwe’s younger sister was speaking to her on the phone at the moment she was attacked, and watched news of her death spread via the internet.
“Her sister was attacked and killed in Australia, live,” he said.
“She heard everything over the phone, she heard the cars passing by and she was helpless, she couldn’t do anything. She started sending her messages and there was no response.”
The family said Ms Maasarwe was an exceptional student who had won prizes for her proficiency in Chinese.
She was on an exchange in Melbourne from her university in Shanghai.
Describing her as fun and smart, Ms Maasarwe’s family expected her to use her talent for languages to build a career in China.
She had gone to Australia to practise her English in a country that her family believed was safe and friendly.
Mr Kittani said that belief was a mistake.
“What can I say? She was a guest who walked on her feet to this country, a talented student coming to study,” he said.
“Instead of coming home with a diploma, she is coming back in a coffin.”
Ms Maasarwe’s father Saeed, who runs a business in Guangzhou, China, has flown to Melbourne to speak to police and take his daughter’s body back to Israel for her funeral.