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Noor Maasarwe was watching the news when she recognised her sister's shoes on the screen.

Noor Maasarwe’s heart sank as she noticed a familiar pair of shoes in a news report last week.

Watching from Israel, it was a story about a woman’s body found in the bushes last Wednesday on the other side of the world, in Melbourne, where her 21-year-old sister Aiia was on exchange.

It came just after another of Aiia’s sisters, Ruba, had spoken with her on the phone – a conversation which ended abruptly amid terrified screams and the sound of her phone dropping to the ground.

what happened to aiia masarwe
Aiia Maasarwe was on the phone to her sister when she was attacked in Melbourne. Image: Facebook.

While the family feared Aiia was in danger and had reported her missing, they hoped with all their hearts she would be found safe and alive in the home away from home she'd grown to love.

They had been hearing endlessly from Aiia about how much she was enjoying her time in Australia - even begging them to visit the "wonderful country" she was desperate to extend her stay in.

But as the world mourns the loss of "the student who was always smiling", another woman raped and murdered on our streets, her family talk about the moment they realised they would never be able to visit their sister and daughter in Australia.

The pair of shoes carelessly tossed on the side of the road in the news footage were indeed Aiia's.

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Aiia was on exchange at La Trobe University. Image: Facebook.
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“We thought she dropped her phone and she got kidnapped. But later on, I saw on the news they had found a body. They didn’t say who it was. But all the details matched. It was the on same road. I was praying that it was not her,” Noor told The Age at her home in Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Israel.

“But then I saw her shoes, and then her phone… and then I knew it was her,” she said.

Aiia had just left the tram stop on her way home from a stand-up comedy show when she took the chance to call her family on the other side of the world.

Noor told media she had tried to contact her first, before she called and spoke to Ruba.

“We stayed on the line for 72 minutes,” Ruba told media.

"I heard her screaming and screaming and then the call was cut off," she said.

Yesterday, a 20-year-old man was charged with Aiia's murder, who media have named as Codey Herrmann.

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20-year-old Codey Herrmann has been charged with Aiia's rape and murder.
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While the family have said they are "comforted" by the fact there have been charges laid, their only wish is for Aiia's body to be brought home.

This is sentiment echoed by the Baqa al-Gharbiyye community - which has chosen to rename the town's main square in Aiia’s name.

This weekend, about 1000 mourners gathered outside the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq mosque in the town’s city centre in protest.

“The Land Wants Aiia Back,” read placards, with others demonstrating to end global violence against women.

“We need Aiia home,” they chanted. “We are all Aiia’s sisters, Aiia is the daughter of all of us.”

Aiia's grieving sister Noor joined the throngs of protesters, vowing her family would not stay silent.

“We are angry and mad… We will fight with all our strength and energy we have left to see justice," she said.

Aiia's body is still with the Victorian Coroner, and it has not yet been announced when she will be returned to her family.

Aiia's father, Saeed Maasarwe, who flew to Melbourne upon learning of his daughter's death, has pleaded to take his daughter home so she could be buried in accordance with his Islamic faith.

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Saeed Maasarwe at a vigil in Melbourne. Image: Getty.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesperson for the Australian Prime Minister’s office said the coroner was working as fast as possible to ensure the family's wishes could be met.

They added the office had offered any support necessary to the Victorian government to quicken the process.

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