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"She was my best friend." Aiia Maasarwe's father and sister on their indescribable loss.

Saeed Maasarwe has been through a hell no parent could imagine.

On January 16, Saeed’s 21-year-old daughter Aiia was cruelly ripped from this earth after she was raped and murdered while returning from a comedy show in Melbourne.

Aiia, a Palestinian Arab of Israeli citizenship, had been in Melbourne for only a short time when she was attacked.

At the time, the streets were dark and the international student decided to call her sister, Ruba, in Israel.

“I didn’t expect you to pick up,” she said. They were the last words Aiia would say to her sister.

This week, the man who murdered Aiia, Codey Herrmann, was sentenced to 36 years in jail. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

As the sentence was handed down, Aiia’s family sobbed in the public gallery.


Now, speaking to The Project ahead of their return home, Aiia’s father and her sister have opened up about their indescribable loss.

It was an interview many families would refuse.

But instead, Saeed sat down, wiped his tears, and spoke about his beloved daughter.

Speaking to host Lisa Wilkinson, Saeed shared that the last few months have been “very difficult”.

“This is people I don’t know,” Saeed said, when asked if he felt anything towards the man who took his daughter’s life.

“They take the life who is the most important to for me. This is my daughter, this is my dream. I do everything for my daughter, for all my daughters and for Aiia to give them the best as I can, to give them the sky,” he continued.

“If she asked for a star, I go and give her all the stars, including the moon.”

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The Project also spoke to Aiia’s sister, Noor – the last person who spoke to the 21-year-old.

“We have to move forward. There is no other direction,” Noor said.

“I don’t think Aiia wants us to just stay in the dark and be sad. She would be very sad if she sees that. She would want us to be happy and live in the moment and enjoy our life, just as what she did.”

aiia maasarwe
21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe was killed in January. Image: Instagram.

When asked if she could ever forgive Aiia's killer, Noor said: "I don't think so."

"I am very angry. You can't just forgive him. It wasn't just – he didn't, for example, kill her with a knife or with a gun," she continued.

"She was a very big part of my life and she wasn't only my sister – she was my best friend. She was also my dreams and now I have to do all of that on my own, to accomplish my dream and her dreams as well."

Now, when Noor returns to her sister Aiia's university, she relives the memories of her sister.

"Every time I go to her university I just go to relive the moments or relive some memories, but every time I go my heart starts to jump out of joy, as if I will see her in a few minutes," she said.

"I automatically go to her dorm and I stand in front of it and I text her as if I'm waiting for her to come. Then I start to go around the campus as if I am looking for something. But I can't find it."

Following Aiia's tragic death, her family have set up a medical fellowship in her honour in support of Palestinian doctors training in Israeli hospitals.

There are also plans to open a memorial park near where Aiia's body was found in the northern suburb of Bundoora.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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