Murdered student Aiia Maasarwe has been laid to rest one week after her body was discovered outside of a shopping centre in the north Melbourne suburb on Bundoora.
A funeral service was held in Aiia’s hometown of Baqa al-Gharbiya, in northern Israel, on Wednesday afternoon as tens of thousands of mourners gathered to pay their respects at the local mosque.
A procession took place through the town as Aiia’s casket was carried to the mosque. The 21-year-old was then buried in a local cemetery before mourners moved on to a local hall.
Aiia was allegedly raped and murdered last week after getting off a tram. She had phoned her sister as she walked from the station to her accommodation, and is believed to have been on the phone at the time she was attacked.
Ahead of the funeral service, Aiia’s father Saeed Maasarwe appeared on Channel 10’s The Project, recalling the exact moment he found out his 21-year-old daughter had died.
“I pray it is not true,” he said. “I pray it is dream, I pray it’s not Aiia.”
He also revealed he stands by his decision to support his daughter’s move to Melbourne from Shanghai to study at La Trobe University, revealing it’s a parent’s job to support their children’s dreams.
Last week, 21-year-old visiting student Aiia Masarwa was murdered on her way home. Much has been said about her death, so before they left the country, Aiia’s father Saaed and her cousin Sharef agreed to speak to @JamilaRizvi about her life and legacy. #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/ev6gle422f
— The Project (@theprojecttv) January 22, 2019
Speaking to Jamila Rizvi on the show, Saeed wiped away tears as he described the incredible legacy his daughter will leave behind her now.
“She was like (an) angel, even when she was born,” he said. “The first day, from the beginning everything special, really, the smile, the face. Very smart when she’s very, very young.”
Aiia’s father has bravely spoken out on a number of occasions following his daughter’s tragic murder, along with Aiia’s sister Ruba, who had been speaking to the La Trobe University student on Facetime moments before she was attacked.
Speaking to reporters from Israel’s Channel 13 network over the weekend, Ruba revealed the chilling details of her final conversation with her sister.
“Suddenly I heard her scream. I heard vehicles in the background of the call like there was a phone on the floor. There was no sign during the conversation of the horror about to happen.
“I heard her screaming and screaming and then the call was cut off.”
A 20-year-old man has been arrested over the brutal murder and appeared in court last week. He was refused bail and is set to return to court via video link on June 7.
Victoria Police confirmed the man was arrested in the north-east suburb of Greensborough at around 11.20am on Friday, with the assistance of homicide detectives.