Australian police arrest man over Israeli student’s death

Two women stand at a floral tribute at the scene where the body of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe was found earlier in the week in Melbourne, Australia. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Australian police arrest man over Israeli student’s death

  • The 21-year-old was killed on the way home from a comedy show in Melbourne just after midnight, when she was attacked
  • A 20-year-old man from the outer suburbs of Melbourne was arrested at 11.20am Friday

CANBERRA, Australia: Australian police arrested a man Friday for questioning over the death of an Israeli student, while the victim’s tearful father visited the flower-strewn crime scene in Melbourne where her body was found.
Aiia Maasarwe was slain at 12:10 a.m. on Wednesday shortly after she got off a tram in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora.
A 20-year-old was taken into custody on Friday morning in the neighboring suburb of Greensborough, a police statement said. Police did not say if any charges have been filed.
The 21-year-old victim was studying at La Trobe University in Melbourne as an exchange student from Shanghai University in China.
Her father Saeed Maasarve arrived in Melbourne on Thursday to bring her body home. He cried Friday when saw an impromptu floral memorial arranged by members of the public at the site where her body was found behind a hedge not far from the tram stop.
“This is the last place my daughter — was here,” the father told reporters. “I had many dreams to be with her.”
Police have not detailed the attack on Maasarwe, which they assume was random and opportunistic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that she had been raped before her body was discarded.
“I just want to begin by saying how devastated I am by the despicable, tragic and violent killing and rape of Aiia Maasarwe,” Morrison told reporters in Fiji.
“Every woman in Australia — every person in Australia — should be able to travel home in safety. I can’t begin to think of what I could say to her family,” he added.
Her uncle, Abed Kittani, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that Maasarve was speaking by phone to a younger sister when she was attacked.
“She heard the cars passing by and she was helpless, she couldn’t do anything,” Kittani said of the sister. The sister sent messages, but there was no response.
“Instead of coming home with a diploma, she is coming back in a coffin,” Kittani said.
Another uncle, Rame Maasarwe, said: “We cannot believe that something like this happened in Australia; we think it’s very safe there.”
The Melbourne community organized a vigil outside Victoria state parliament. Later Friday, a tram carrying only flowers will depart from there following the route of her final journey.
“Tonight, on the steps of parliament, Victorians will gather to remember Aiia Maasarwe. Positive. Fun. ‘The kindest girl.’ A 21-year-old just making her way in the world, with her whole life ahead of her. A student on her way home after a comedy show with friends,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews tweeted.


Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California will probably sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2019
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Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

  • The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico

SAN FRANCISCO: Sixteen US states sued President Donald Trump’s administration Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico, saying the move violated the constitution.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, said the president’s order was contrary to the Presentment Clause that outlines legislative procedures and the Appropriations Clause, which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds.
The move had been previously announced by Xavier Becerra the attorney general of California who said his state and others had legal standing because they risked losing moneys intended for military projects, disaster assistance and other purposes.
Several Republican senators have decried the emergency declaration, saying it establishes a dangerous precedent and amounts to executive overreach.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia are party to the complaint seeking an injunction.
“Use of those additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent in violation of the US Constitution, including the Presentment Clause and Appropriations Clause,” the complaint said.
It added that Trump had “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”
“Congress has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s insistence to fund a border wall, recently resulting in a record 35-day partial government shutdown over the border wall dispute,” the document read.
“After the government reopened, Congress approved, and the president signed into law, a $1.375 billion appropriation for fencing along the southern border, but Congress made clear that funding could not be used to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.”
The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico.
Friday’s declaration enables the president to divert funds from the Pentagon’s military construction budget and other sources.