Hundreds gather for vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa

About 200 people gathered on Tuesday evening for a vigil in memory of the schoolteacher Sabina Nessa, who was killed three weeks ago.

The vigil was held in Eastbourne, where the man suspected of her killing was arrested late last month.

Crowds gathered, as the sun set in front of the seaside town’s Victorian pier, to honour Nessa and protest over violence against women.

The 28-year-old teacher was killed as she walked to meet a friend at a pub near her home in Kidbrooke, south-east London.

The peaceful demonstration was punctuated by applause as those addressing the crowd at the seafront spoke out against victim-blaming.

Natasha Peacock, the co-organiser, said: “Sabina Nessa should still be alive. She was loved and she will be deeply missed.”

Nessa’s walk through Cator Park should have taken just five minutes but she never completed her journey. Her body was found almost 24 hours later, covered with leaves.

Tuesday’s darkening sky was lit with mobile phone lights in Nessa’s honour, with a minute’s silence held during the vigil. The event came amid mounting public outrage and continued debate over women’s safety and over policing in the UK.

Many of those attending held pictures of Nessa, while others carried signs calling out male violence, as well as remembering Sarah Everard.

One placard read: “When will women be safe?” while another read: “She was just walking home.”

Peacock said: “Women are frightened for their lives. We are having to consider the risk of going out alone past 6pm and potentially getting attacked, raped or murdered – and the advice to flag down buses does not make us feel safe.

“This is a crisis. We need to make the safety of women and girls a priority.”

The vigil lasted for about an hour, with various speakers addressing the crowd. At about 7pm, those gathered paused in thoughtful reflection as a Muslim prayer was read out.

Koci Selamaj was arrested in the East Sussex town in the early hours of 26 September and has been charged with Nessa’s murder.

During a court hearing last week, the 36-year-old’s lawyer indicated he will plead not guilty. Selamaj has been remanded in custody ahead of a plea hearing on 16 December.

Two other men, aged 38 and 41, who were also arrested by police investigating the teacher’s death have been released under investigation.

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