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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 09:59 GMT
Leeds deaths trial adjourned
Ali Umit Demir
Defendant Ali Umit Demir says he was provoked
The trial of a group of Turkish men charged in connection with the killing of two Leeds United fans has been adjourned until February.

Ten Turkish men had been due to appear in court in Istanbul on Monday but three failed to turn up.


Even if we get a guilty decision it is not the end of it

Solicitor Phillip Howell
Christopher Loftus, 37, and father-of-two Kevin Speight, 40, were stabbed to death before Leeds' Uefa cup semi-final against Galatasaray in April last year.

In all Turkish police have charged 19 men over involvement in the affray.

The judge adjourned the case until February.

Possible appeals

Phillip Howell, the solicitor representing the family of Kevin Speight, said the case could drag on for months through further legal argument and appeals.

"Even if we get a guilty decision it is not the end of it, there are appeals to go through," Mr Howell said.

"Under Turkish law both sides, the prosecution and defence, can appeal if they don't like the outcome."

Five were originally accused of manslaughter but charges are not being pressed against four of them because of lack of evidence.

Only one of the men, Ali Umit Demir, remains in prison.

Shrine

According to solicitors Demir admits using his own knife to stab the two Leeds fans.

If found guilty by the panel of three judges he could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The home of Leeds United football club was turned into a shrine by fans devastated by the deaths of the two supporters.

A single black armband was placed on the statue of legendary former captain Billy Bremner, outside the gates of Elland Road.

Flowers, scarves and shirts adorned the statue and gates.

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The BBC's Tabitha Morgan
"The chief judge ordered the case to be adjourned"
See also:

23 May 00 | Europe
Turkish soccer death trial begins
06 Apr 00 | Europe
Fans' anguish at deaths
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