Turkish court quashes sentence on man who killed two English fans

  • Other Sport
  • Sunday, 22 Jun 2003

ANKARA: A Turkish appeals court has overturned a man's 15-year jail sentence handed down last year for stabbing two English football fans to death in Istanbul. 

Anatolia news agency said the court ordered a retrial for Ali Umit Demir because of insufficient evidence. 

Demir was convicted last year of killing Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight before a UEFA cup tie between Leeds United and Galatasaray in April 2000.  

The appeals court said it was not clear if blood found on Demir's knife had come from Loftus and Speight. 

It also said the initial verdict had failed to take account of the high level of provocation of the Leeds' fans. 

The two men died after running street battles between Leeds supporters and Turkish men in Istanbul the night before the match.  

At the original trial, lawyers for the defence said Loftus and Speight were drunk and insulted the Turkish flag.  

The court upheld three-month sentences against four other men involved in the fighting.  

It ordered that Demir should remain in jail pending a new trial.  

The killings helped to trigger clashes between English and Turkish fans in Copenhagen when Galatasaray played Arsenal in the final of the same tournament.  

And England was fined 97,400 Euros following crowd disturbances at a match against Turkey in Sunderland last month.  

England are due to travel to Turkey in October for a European Championship qualifier which could decide Group Seven.  

However, England have not taken up their ticket allocations in order to limit travel for fans in anticipation of further trouble.  

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