Australian Man Charged With Rape and Murder of Israeli Student

Hundreds, including student's father, attended silent vigil in front of Victoria state parliament in Melbourne, as prime minister says 'country is very shaken'

Flowers during a vigil in memory of murdered Israeli student Aya Masarwe in Melbourne on January 18, 2019.
Allan Lee/AFP

A 20-year-old man appeared in an Australian court on Saturday charged with murder and rape in a savage attack on an Israeli student that had captured the country's attention.

Codey Herrmann, an aspiring rapper who performs as M.C. Codez, did not apply for bail in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. He is accused of slaying Aya Masarwe in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The 21-year-old victim had been studying at La Trobe University in Melbourne for the past five months as an exchange student from Shanghai University in China.

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She was on her way home from a Melbourne comedy club and was speaking to her younger sister in Israel on FaceTime when she was attacked shortly after stepping from a tram in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora.

Herrmann hung his head as he sat in the dock and stood only to hear the charges against him read. He was not required to enter pleas.

He will appear in the same court on Monday. A murder conviction carries a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment and rape carries a potential maximum of 25 years.

20-year-old man sits in a police car after he was arrested for questioning over the death of Israeli student Aya Masarwe in Melbourne, Australia, January 18, 2019.
James Ross/AAP Image via AP

Herrmann was arrested on Friday morning in a suburb neighboring Bundoora, around the same time as the victim's China-based father, Saeed Masarwe, visited a floral memorial to his daughter that has grown at the site where her body was dumped behind a hedge not far from the tram station.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the same memorial on Saturday, accompanied by his wife and two daughters.

"Later today, I'm going to be meeting with her father. Words will fail me, I'm sure, as one father to another," Morrison told reporters.

"I think that the country is very shaken ... but at the same time, as always, reaches out and seeks to comfort and I want to thank those Australians for doing that and I was pleased to be able to, with my family, simply do the same," he added.

Around 1,000 people, including the victim's father, gathered in a silent vigil in respect for the young Israeli on the steps of Victoria state parliament on Friday night. Many carrying flowers and candles later took trams to another vigil at the location near a shopping mall where the body was found on Wednesday morning.

Floral tributes continue to be laid at La Trobe University, which is in Bundoora, a suburb where many students live.