BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Man jailed for killing Leeds fans
Defendant Ali Umit Demir
Ali Umit Demir admitted using a knife
A Turkish man has been jailed for 15 years for murdering two Leeds United fans in Istanbul in April 2000.

Kevin Speight, 37, and 40-year-old Christopher Loftus were stabbed during disturbances the night before their team played a Uefa Cup semi-final against Galatasaray.

Ali Umit Demir was found guilty of killing with provocation by three Turkish judges and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for each murder.

There are many thousands of Turkish fans and English fans who are decent people

Ray Fell
Leeds Utd Supporters Club
Leeds United Supporters Club said it now hoped to draw a line under the incident and move forward.

During the trial, Mr Demir admitted grabbing a knife and hitting out during the trouble, but said he did not know who he had hit.

He said before the men were stabbed he saw drunk Leeds supporters harassing women and making obscene gestures using the Turkish flag.

His lawyers are expected to lodge an appeal against his conviction and must do so within a week.

Grieving process

The court also convicted and sentenced four Turkish men to three months and 22 days in prison for involvement in the fighting that led to the fans' deaths.

Two others were fined - one for concealing a knife used in the fight and the other for involvement in the fight.

Chairman of Leeds United Supporters Club Ray Fell said: "Seven and a half years for both lives will not seem a lot to many.

Kevin Speight with his eight-year-old son George
Kevin Speight was a father of two young children
"A lot of fans will think more than one man was involved in the deaths and it will seem that this man has taken the problems single-handedly.

"Saying that, we have to draw a line under the proceedings and move forward.

"There are many thousands of Turkish fans and English fans who are decent people and hopefully we can get the message across that we have to move forward."

The case has moved at a slow pace, with the trial being adjourned five times since it began in May 2000.

Lawyers for Kevin Speight's widow said she had been unable to grieve properly during the protracted legal process.


John Howe said Susan Speight had not been able to achieve closure on this and any appeal would exacerbate the situation.

The court acquitted 13 other defendants, after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence against them.

Christopher Loftus
Christopher Loftus was stabbed to death
Defence lawyer Fuat Akkoyunlu said Demir had entered the fighting to protect his uncle, but had not delivered the fatal blows to the two English fans.

Turkish police originally charged 19 men with involvement in the affray which later led to fans' deaths.

A spokesman for Leeds United FC said the club would not be making a comment about the convictions.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"A number of people here in Istanbul thought the sentence should be higher"
The BBC's Catherine Marston
"Today's ruling has brought no comment from Leeds United"
See also:

01 May 02 | England
No 'closure' for Leeds widow
01 May 02 | Europe
Leeds fans' night in 'Hell'
11 Feb 02 | Europe
Turkish justice moves slowly
24 Dec 01 | Europe
Leeds deaths trial adjourned
19 Jan 01 | Europe
Turkish accused seek amnesty
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories