A foreign player for Maccabi Netanya FC arrested on murder charges will be able
to play in the team’s game on Saturday, a judge ruled on Thursday after
releasing him on house arrest.
Police appealed the judge’s decision, and
the player will remain in custody until a further hearing on Friday. The judge
made the rather unusual ruling to release the player on house arrest and allow
him to take part in the team’s match at Hapoel Acre on Saturday night, following
a plea from his attorney that the game is a very important one and his presence
on the pitch is crucial to the team.
The player, whose name is banned
from publication, was arrested on Wednesday night along with a friend, Congo
native Eritsia Akalsongo, on suspicion of murdering 20-year-old Netanya woman
Zehava Chikol, whose body was found half-naked outside the city’s Carmel
Chikol was discovered by passersby Wednesday morning, and at first
police suspected she might have committed suicide, even though there were signs
of violence on her body.
After the results of her autopsy became
available Thursday afternoon police determined that she died from strangulation
and was possibly thrown from the window of the hotel.
The player and his
friend Akalsongo, aged 30, share an apartment at the hotel. The player told
police that Chikol had been in his apartment along with Akalsongo on Tuesday
night, adding that at one point his wife saw Chikol in the background while the
player spoke to her on Skype, leading to an argument between them.
player said that at some point Chikol left and that neither he nor Akalsongo
know where she went or what caused her death. The player has also stated that he
did not know Chikol personally, and had only met her on Tuesday through his
On Thursday, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extended
Akalsongo’s remand by seven days.
A paramedic who arrived at the scene on
Wednesday night said that police were initially describing the death as a
suicide, saying that the woman fell from the third floor, only later changing
their assessment, saying that she was thrown from the room after an argument of
In a statement released on Thursday, Maccabi Netanya FC said
“we hope the player was not involved in the affair and regardless we will help
police do their job with the hope and belief that the player did not have
anything to do with the incident.”