Court extends detention of 2 Netanya murder suspects

Police continue to investigate what role the accused played in the murder of 20-year-old Zehava Chikol.

April 4, 2013 03:15
1 minute read.
Ambulance at site of woman's death in Netanya

Ambulance at site of woman's death in Netanya 370. (photo credit: A. Yaakov/News 24 )

The Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court extended on Wednesday the detention of a foreign Maccabi Netanya FC player until April 8 and the remand of his friend Eritsia Akalsongo until at least April 11, as police continue to investigate what role the accused played in the murder of 20-year-old Zehava Chikol, who was found strangled to death and half-naked outside Netanya’s Carmel Hotel last Wednesday.

Akalsongo, a Congo native, confessed to the crime and reenacted Chikol’s murder for detectives on Tuesday, according to the Sharon sub-district police.

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The April 8 date for the soccer player, whose identity is subject to a gag order, came by agreement between the prosecution and the defense.

The prosecution asked for a 12-day extension of Akalsongo’s detention, while the defense argued that if the prosecutions’ evidence was so strong, there was no need for such a long extension.

As the defense questioned police investigator Ronen Golan, the two debated the reliability of the third and most recent account Akalsongo gave to investigators, in which he allegedly confessed to the crime.

The court reduced the 12 days requested to eight, but concluded that overall the evidence presented had grown even stronger since earlier remand hearings and that the strength of that evidence, compounded by the police’s need to undertake 14 additional investigative acts, justified granting the police additional time to investigate while the suspects were still in custody.

The two men are both in jail on suspicion of strangling Chikol and throwing her body out an eighth story window of the hotel.

The men were arrested last Wednesday night and during initial questioning, denied the charges, but later began to implicate one another, according to investigators.

As of Wednesday night, the soccer player had not confessed to the killing, and police said they are still investigating his involvement in the murder.

Initially, a judge ruled that the soccer player be released on house arrest so that he could play in a Saturday night game. The decision sparked a public outcry, and, following an appeal by police, the player’s remand was extended.

Wednesday’s hearing resulted in the second extension of detention for the two men; their first hearing occurred last Thursday.

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