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Congolese national confesses to Netanya murder

Soccer player is suspected of having witnessed the hotel killing of 18-year-old woman

A player with the Maccabi Netanya soccer club in court (photo credit: Eyal Geffen/Flash90)
A player with the Maccabi Netanya soccer club in court (photo credit: Eyal Geffen/Flash90)

A Congolese man on Tuesday confessed to the murder at a Netanya hotel last Wednesday of an 18-year-old Israeli woman, police said. A second Congolese suspect, a soccer player for Maccabi Netanya, was believed to have witnessed the killing, police said, and any further role he may have played was being investigated.

The two men were arrested Thursday on suspicion of involvement in the death of Zahava Chekul, at a beachfront hotel in the city.

20-year-old Zahava Chekul was found dead near a Netanya hotel (image capture: Channel 2)
20-year-old Zahava Chekul was found dead near a Netanya hotel (image capture: Channel 2)

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 soccer player’s name was not made public. The alleged killer, a foreign worker, was named as Aritzia Akalsongo. He reenacted the incident on Tuesday, police said, and indicated that Chekul and he argued over money prior to the killing. He said he had not intended to kill her.

Both men have been held in custody since their arrests. Police said Tuesday they were still determining the soccer player’s role in the incident. He was suspected of having witnessed the murder, and police were investigating further, Channel 10 news reported Tuesday.

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,” the player testified.

Adiv Sterman contributed to this report. 

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