An Australian man has been sentenced to prison for 36 years for raping and killing an Arab-Israeli exchange student.
The high-profile case has shocked many and prompted outrage over issues of women’s safety in Australia.
Twenty-one year old Codey Herrmann attacked Palestinian Aya Maasarwe near her university in the city of Melbourne in January this year.
Maasarwe, also 21, had been living in the city on a one-year university exchange programme at the time of the attack, which occurred around midnight on 16 January near La Trobe University while she was on the phone to her sister.
The murderer hit her with a metal pole, raped her, beat her and then set her body on fire in an attempt to cover up the murder.
Sentencing Herrmann in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Judge Elizabeth Hollingworth called the crime a “savage attack” and described Maasarwe as “a kind young woman who had her whole life in front of her.”
The sentence specified that he will only be eligible for parole after thirty years.
Judge Hollingworth linked the case to the broader issue of the treatment and safety of women in Australia.
“Women should be free to walk the streets alone without fear of being attacked by strangers,” she told the Court.
The murder and sentencing comes amidst a fierce debate in Australia on the issue of women’s safety. Australia’s human rights commission has said previously that the country has “a disturbingly high rate of violence against women.”
One in five women and one in twenty men have reportedly experienced sexual violence or threats since the age of fifteen, according to government figures.
Following Maasarwe’s murder, vigils were attended by thousands of people on the steps of Melbourne’s state parliament. The Palestinian student’s father also took part.