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Thousands crowd Qld streets for Collombet

The rape and murder of French student Sophie Collombet struck close to home for many.
Two thousand people, mostly strangers, have marched through Brisbane on Thursday to the inner city park where the 21-year-old's life was brutally cut short.
The sounds of bagpipes floated across the Brisbane River at the makeshift memorial adorned with a French flag and photos of Ms Collombet's welcoming face.
From a village in the valley of the French Alps, the young Frenchwoman yearned to not only learn languages but to live them.
She'd travelled to Denmark and Germany and was due to return home to her family and boyfriend in June.
Her close-knit family spoke of their grief in a eulogy read on their behalf by family friend Roselyne Trott.
"Oh little one, you feared nothing," it read.
"Be you our daughter, our sister, our love or our friend, you exist in every blink of the eye in every little flower in every break of dawn.
"You knew how to make the most of each beautiful moment that made up your life but this life has already come to an end."
Ms Collombet was walking home from a night class at Griffith University when she was attacked on the edge of the busy South Bank precinct in a CCTV blind spot.
Her naked and battered body was found in Kurilpa Park by an early morning jogger the next morning, March 28.
Amongst the solemn ceremony there were moments of exasperation.
Griffith University spokesman Neils Kraaier addressed mourners and questioned how such a public attack could occur in a "self-proclaimed new world city".
"We owe it to Sophie that Brisbane is not only safe as a brochure but safe in reality as well," he said.
Renee Harper said she had walked the same path on the night Ms Collombet was murdered.
She wanted the community to turn out in force and unite against violence.
"That we won't cower down and fear this," she said.
"We don't want the animals to win."
The man wanted over Sophie's murder was taken into custody on Monday.

AAP (11-4-2014)
Kym Agius

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Memorial walk will shine a light on violence against women in wake of Sophie Collombet’s murder

Hundreds are expected to gather in Brisbane city this evening to honour French student Sophie Collombet.
A candlelight memorial walk has been organised by university students, inviting the community to shine a light on violence against women.
The crowd will gather in King George Square from 6.30pm and walk through the city towards Kurilpa Park.
Griffith University Women’s Association president Stephanie Kameric said the crowd will first be addressed by the uni’s Post Graduate Student Association president Niels Kraaier.
“Niels will say a few words about Sophie and the importance of personal safety for young women and international students,” Ms Kameric said.
The crowd will then proceed towards Kurilpa Park, led by a group of pipers.
Following a minute silence, the crowd will hear from Roselyne Trott who will speak for the Collombet family.
“I have been forwarded some words to read including descriptions of times in her life … and the love they have for her,” Mrs Trott said.
And to commemorate Ms Collombet’s Catholic faith, a group of nuns from the Missionaries of Charity gathered in Kurilpa Park yesterday afternoon to bless the area.

www.news.com.au (10-4-2014)

Collombet murder suspect before Qld court

An itinerant man extradited to Queensland following his arrest in northern NSW will face a Brisbane court accused of the bashing murder and rape of French student Sophie Louise Collombet.
The 21-year-old Griffith University business student was on her way home after a night class when attacked in south Brisbane on March 27.
Her battered and naked body was found at Kurilpa Park, at the edge of the city's busy South Bank precinct, the following morning by a jogger.
Benjamin James Milward was arrested by NSW police near a Coffs Harbour shopping centre shortly before 3pm (AEST) on Monday afternoon.
Brisbane homicide detectives were dispatched that evening, and an application for Milward's extradition to Queensland was approved by Coffs Harbour Local Court Magistrate Robert Walker on Tuesday morning.
Queensland Police said on Tuesday evening the 25-year-old had been charged with murder, rape, deprivation of liberty and robbery and would appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Milward's mother, Diane, on Tuesday visited the rotunda where Ms Collombet's body was found to pay her respects and lay flowers.
"I am heartbroken," she told News Corp Australia.
"We are all so sorry and sad and it shouldn't happen to anybody - and a beautiful girl like Sophie; she's just gorgeous, it's just wrong."
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart had earlier called Ms Collombet's father Guy Collombet to inform him of Milward's arrest.
"I spent some time on the phone with him. He was very dignified and grateful for the information," he told reporters.
A vigil in honour of Ms Collombet will be held in Brisbane's city centre on Thursday night to mark the two-week anniversary of her death.
Griffith University's Women's Association is helping organise the event.
"It was something important to organise to stand together to mourn her life and stand up against violence against women," spokeswoman Stephanie Kameric told AAP.

www.news.com.au (8-4-2014)

Candelit march to be held for murdered Sophie Collombet at King George Square on Thursday

A simple handwritten note from a stranger to murdered French university student Sophie Collombet captures the grief of a city.
Left among the dozens of floral tributes at the Kurilpa Park rotunda where the 21-year-old’s body was found 10 days ago is the two-lined note: “I’m sorry your life was lost in our city. I hope you at peace now. Bisous (French for kisses). Farewell.”
Some notes were written by grieving friends, most were left by horrified strangers.
“Sophie, I have never met you but today I am here with my daughter and I feel your presence,” another note said.
More tributes are likely to flow on Thursday when hundreds are expected to gather for a candlelit vigil to honour the student.
The crowd will gather at King George Square before making their way onto Kurilpa Bridge and, finally, into the park in South Brisbane.
“I think as a young woman of the same age, her passing really affected me,” said Stephanie Kameric, president of the Griffith University Women’s Association, who is helping to organise the vigil.
She said the city had a “duty of care” towards visitors, adding it was “heartbreaking that this has even happened”.
She said students at the university were shocked and struggling to process the death.
University of Queensland Union women’s representative Lotte Scheel, who is also helping to organise the vigil, said it would also serve to highlight the issue of violence against women.
The Office of the State Coroner yesterday said Sophie Collombet’s body had been released to a funeral director for repatriation.
“Further testing will continue,” a statement read.
Sophie’s close friend Roselyne Trott, who has been acting on behalf of the Collombet family, said the family was eager for her to be returned to them.
“They are a little more comforted that Sophie is coming back home,” she said.

www.news.com.au (8-4-2014)

Sophie Collombet death: Man charged with rape and murder of French student in Brisbane
Benjamin James Milward

A 25-year-old man has been charged with the rape and murder of French student Sophie Collombet in Brisbane.
The naked and battered body of the 21-year-old business student was found in a rotunda at Kurilpa Park, near Brisbane's William Jolly Bridge and CBD, on March 28.
Benjamin James Milward arrived in Brisbane tonight after an extradition order was approved in the Coffs Harbour Local Court on the NSW mid-north coast.
Shortly after arriving at the watch house, he was formally charged with murder, deprivation of liberty, rape and robbery.
Milward was arrested in the NSW town yesterday afternoon and spent the morning being questioned by Queensland detectives.
He was named as a person of interest last week after police released security camera vision showing him in the area where Ms Collombet's body was found around the time she was killed.
Milward will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart says he has been updating the Collombet family on the progress of the case.
Commissioner Stewart says he spoke to Ms Collombet's father.
"I spent some time on the phone with him. He was very dignified and very grateful for the information, and obviously we're keeping him up to date," he said.
"We have a family liaison officer in the investigation team, and their job is to keep the family and friends aware of any progress in the investigation."
Milward's mother visits place where student's body was found The park where Ms Collombet's body was found has become the focus of mourning in Brisbane.
Milward's mother, Diane, today visited the park, and says she is standing by her son.
"Every day, however long it takes, whatever the outcome we're going to be there," she said.
"You just don't think this could ever happen. It's just, I'm still in denial I think; hoping for some glimmer of hope that it's just a big mistake."
Ms Milward also expressed sadness for the Collombet family.
"We're all so sorry and sad and it shouldn't happen to anybody. A beautiful girl like Sophie, she's just gorgeous - it's just wrong," she said.
A makeshift vigil has sprung up at the park, with dozens of flowers and notes left in her memory.
"I did not know you Sophie," reads one note. "But I had to be here just to show you how much I care."
"Angel, I never knew you but I will never forget", another note reads, while a bouquet of flowers was left with the message: "RIP beautiful girl. #SafestreetsforSophie."
One note left at the rotunda, signed "from a Brisbane mother", urges authorities to increase the amount of police on the streets.
On Thursday night a vigil is due to be held where Ms Collombet's body was found.

mobile.abc.net.au (8-4-2014)

Mystery surrounds student’s brutal Brisbane murder

Murdered international student, Sophie Collombet was due to return to France in two months to reunite with her boyfriend, but instead he was tasked with identifying her body.
He called police from France after recognising publicised images of Ms Collombet’s jewellery. The 21 year-old’s flatmates had reported her missing on Monday after being unable to contact her over the weekend.
Mystery surrounds the death of Frenchwoman Collombet who was found naked save for some pieces of jewellery, brutally bashed in a gazebo at Brisbane’s South Bank early last Friday morning.
Friends of the couple told The Courier-Mail Collombet’s boyfriend, known as Boris, responded to public pleas by police to come forward if they noticed a missing friend, relative or colleague.
Close friend Roselyne Trott said that Ms Collombet’s mother in France had been growing anxious after she was unable to contact her daughter.
“They had heard there was a murder in Brisbane and they were thinking if it was Sophie,” she said.
Detectives are trying to determine whether she was sexually assaulted or robbed. Her final movements are currently unknown.
Police say she may have last been captured on CCTV footage walking alone in the inner city between 2am and 3am on Friday.
Her brother, Guillaume Collombet, said from France that the family was in shock at the loss of their “beautiful” girl.
Collombet was studying a masters in international business at Griffith University.

thenewdaily.com.au (2-4-2014)

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