(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Lod District Court on Thursday convicted Eritsia Akalsongo, a Congolese man and friend of a foreign Maccabi Netanya FC player, for the dramatic murder of 20-year-old Zehava Chikol, whose half-naked body was thrown from the eighth floor of Netanya’s Carmel Hotel on March 26, 2013.
Initially, the professional soccer player, known only as A.A. due to a gag order, was also a suspect. Though he was arrested, he was never indicted and was eventually cleared of suspicion.
Prior to March 2013, Akalsongo asked A.A. if he could stay with him in his room at the Netanya hotel because he was homeless.
During that period, Chikol and Akalsongo had various interactions, and Akalsongo owed Chikol NIS 200.
On March 26, Chikol confronted Akalsongo about his debt. When Akalsongo attempted to evade paying, Chikol threatened that if he did not pay her, she would open a window and scream he had raped her. In response, Akalsongo strangled her to death and then threw her body out of the room’s window.
The state obtained court permission to take A.A.’s testimony prior to trial, as A.A. planned to leave the country at the end of his contract with Maccabi Netanya FC, in May 2013.
The court gave strong indications that Akalsongo would receive life imprisonment, but put off formal sentencing in order to hold hearings about the pain and suffering of Chikol’s family so that a compensatory fine amount may be set.