Australia

'She wasn’t in a dangerous country': Family’s heartbreak after Melbourne international student's death

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Police are investigating the suspicious death of a woman in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The woman found dead just metres from a Melbourne tram stop on Wednesday morning was an international student studying in Australia.

It's reported Israeli citizen Aia Masarwe was aged in her 20s, and that the Israeli consulate in Australia was now arranging for her body to be returned to her family.

It's understood Ms Masarwe, who was a Palestinian Arab, had previously studied Chinese and English at Shanghai University before moving to Victoria on a study program.

Passers-by discovered her body in scrub near a tram stop close to a shopping centre at Bundoora on Wednesday morning.

Homicide detectives say it is likely she had been travelling on the route 86 tram from Docklands.

They have confirmed they are treating the death as suspicious.

Police forensics examine the scene where a woman's body was found Wednesday morning.
Police forensics examine the scene where a woman's body was found Wednesday morning.
AAP

"We are treating it as suspicious. It's apparent or it seems that the female has been assaulted," Inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters near the scene on Wednesday.

Police are yet to formally identify the woman.

Aia Masarwe (left) was found dead in Melbourne on Wednesday. Police are treating her death as suspicious.
Aia Masarwe (left) was found dead in Melbourne on Wednesday. Police are treating her death as suspicious.
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SBS News has contacted the Israeli consulate, but Ms Masarwe's uncle, Abed Katane, told Israeli news outlet Haaretz the family was in shock.

"She was an excellent student, full of life, and was in a country that was not dangerous at all, to say the least. And despite that, we get this incredibly painful news," he said.

"It's the kind of thing you never expect."

Israeli media reported that Ms Masarwe was studying at Shanghai University, and spent the past several months in Melbourne on a study-abroad program, according to her uncle Abed Katane.

Her father has left Israel for Melbourne in a bid to coordinate her body's return home, Mr Katane told the newspaper.

On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "This is a matter for Victoria Police and the Embassy of Israel."

Police believe the woman was assaulted before she was murdered in Bundoora, Melbourne.
Police believe the woman was assaulted before she was murdered in Bundoora, Melbourne.
AAP

Officers are expected to further canvass nearby residents on Thursday to determine how Ms Masarwe died and what led to her body being left near the tram stop.

"We would ask for anyone that may have dashcam footage, CCTV or may have seen anything here that could be a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle to contact Crimestoppers," Insp Stamper said.

Detectives are keen to speak to anyone who travelled on the route 86 tram, particularly between 11pm on Tuesday and 1am on Wednesday.

Police are investigating all lines of inquiry, including whether the attack was random and if Ms Masarwe was followed.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says there will be an increased police presence in Bundoora to reassure the community as the investigation is under way.

"It is a terrible tragedy, what has occurred," she told reporters.

"That is a part of my own electorate and I know that tram line very well.

"As a government, we will do whatever is required to support this woman's family and friends and I extend my sympathy to her family and friends at this terrible, terrible time."

Anyone with further information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

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