Updated at 7. 30pm with Dimitrijevic comments. 

The family of Sliema murder victim Paulina Dembska remotely joined a vigil attended by hundreds in Sliema on Tuesday night.   

The family joined via a WhatsApp call as womens’ rights activists read out a message from Paulina’s mother expressing her daughter’s love for Malta.

The family of murder victim Paulina Dembska joined remotely.The family of murder victim Paulina Dembska joined remotely.

“Paulina loved this place. She loved animals. She loved cats. She loved Malta,” the message read.

"I ask you to pray for our daughter, sister, friend."

Activists read out a statement by the victim's family.

The victim's parents had previously lost a son in an accident some years ago. 

Meanwhile, activists also read out Paulina’s own haunting words about life. 

“You come here naked. You will go away naked. You came here defenceless, you will be just as weak and vulnerable when you leave.”

“You came without money, you will leave without money. That is what being a human being is like. Why so much pride, malice, hatred and resentment.”

Womens’ rights activist Lara Dimitrijevic told those gathered that Malta had failed to protect her and ensure she lived a life free of fear. 

A makeshift memorial has been set up at the scene of the murder.A makeshift memorial has been set up at the scene of the murder.

“The country needs to pull up its socks and stop playing ostrich,” Dimitrijevic said. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela, accompanied by his wife Lydia, was among a number of MPs from both sides of the house present.

Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife Lydia were among MPs from both sides of the house in attendance.Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife Lydia were among MPs from both sides of the house in attendance.

"Every woman should make it back home. In memory of Paulina Dembska" - one placard affixed to the site about where she was murdered read.

"Dear Paulina. An entire country cries for you," another read.

The crowd snaked from the Sliema front right down to the Sliema gardens where she was murdered.

The makeshift memorial set up at the murder scene.The makeshift memorial set up at the murder scene.

‘Victim blaming must stop’ 

Speaking to Times of Malta, Dimitrijevic said the brutal murder had sent ripples around the country. 

“This femicide just shows that we still continue to fail in doing what we have committed ourselves to do,” she said.

Video: Chris Sant Fournier.

She hit out at the all too common occurrence of women being harassed online and in the street.

“It is so common that it actually becomes something that is tolerated and accepted.”

Dimitrijevic said the culture of victim-blaming is also unacceptable, pointing out that some online commentators even took to questioning why Dembska was out walking early on Sunday morning.

“Whilst there is that shock, there is also that attitude of tolerance. It is victim-blaming basically”

Dembska’s lifeless body was found at the Independence Garden in Sliema early on Sunday morning

Just before 6. 30am a passer-by found her body just below the popular promenade, a short distance away from the so-called cat village, where Dembska fed and took care of local strays.

She was found with head and chest injuries.

An autopsy report has confirmed she was raped and strangled. 

A prime suspect in the murder, 20-year-old Abner Aquilina, is being held at Mount Carmel Hospital, a state-run mental health facility, after reportedly telling interrogators that the devil spoke to him on the night of the murder. He has not yet been charged.   

Hundreds gathered, some with placards, others lighting candles.Hundreds gathered, some with placards, others lighting candles.

Friends of Dembska have launched a fundraiser to repatriate the murder victim's body as well as to cover her funeral costs.

More than 1,200 people contributed to a fundraiser which reached its €20,000 target on Tuesday.

Agnieszka Gramala, a Polish resident and friend of Dembska, has now set up a GoGetFunding page to help her friend's grieving family.   

"Her family needs our support so that they can start focusing on mourning the loss of a loved one. They will need funds to transport the body, cover lawsuits and legal costs to get the case to its fair end."

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