Woman found dead in Melbourne identified as student Aiia Masarwe.

The uncle of a woman found dead near a tram stop in Melbourne’s north, who international media have identified as a 21-year-old Arab-Israeli student, has spoken of how he learnt of his niece’s death.

Aiia Masarwe, who Israeli newspaper Haaretz have named as the victim in Melbourne on an exchange study program, was believed to have been travelling on the route 86 tram home from Docklands when she was attacked.

The business studies student’s Miama-based uncle Rame Masarwe said he heard of his niece’s death in a phone call from a relative.

“I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it … the day before my wife had said to me, ‘We’ll have to go to Australia, Australia’s very safe, very nice’,” he said, ABC reports.

“We cannot believe that something like this happened in Australia, we think it’s very safe there.”

Mr Masarwe also spoke of how his niece had moved to Melbourne to further her studies and had only planned to stay for a year, an exciting challenge that wasn’t out of character for her.

“She was a very good person, she was a very happy person … she was adventurous, she was smart, she was silly,” he said.

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

“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.

Haaretz 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 told AAP: “This is a matter for Victoria Police and the Embassy of Israel.”

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.”