The Central District Court on Friday overturned a lower court’s decision to release a foreign soccer player suspected of murder to house arrest, ordering him remanded for six more days.
The Congolese national, who plays for Maccabi Netanya and whose name has been placed under a gag order, was arrested Thursday along with another man on suspicion of involvement in the death of 20-year-old Zahava Chekul, at a beachfront hotel in the city.
Chekul’s body was found Wednesday outside the hotel where the two suspects had spent the night. According to hotel employees who arrived at the scene, the upper half of the woman’s body was exposed and severely bruised.
The name of the player’s associate, also a Congolese national, was reported as Aritzia Akalsongo.
The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Thursday remanded Akalsongo for eight days.
The soccer player was set to be released to house arrest, but police prosecutors filed an appeal with the Central District Court, saying he posed a flight risk or may try to obstruct the investigation.
“Having studied the investigation file, including memoranda relating to the autopsy and evidence collected from suspects, I concluded that the lower court erred in ordering the suspect’s release. There is a list of things the investigators cannot perform unless the respondent remain in custody,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
The soccer player said during the interrogation that he first saw Chukul some 24 hours prior to her death.
“She came into to my hotel room without ringing. I was in the middle of a Skype conversation with my wife, who is abroad. My wife asked me, ‘Who is that?’, and raised a ruckus because she thought the girl was with me. I told her to get out of the room, and go to my friend, who was not present. My friend lives with me as he has no place to go to and I helped him out, ” player testified.
Channel 10 News added that Akalsongo disclosed to the investigators details that shed further light on the woman’s death.
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.