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Monday, November 23, 1998 Published at 18:56 GMT


World: Europe

Match postponed over Ocalan dispute

The two sides drew 2-2 when they met in September

The European Champions League match between Italy's Juventus and Turkey's Galatasaray has been postponed because of escalating tensions between the two countries.

The game was scheduled for Wednesday, 25 November, in Istanbul but Uefa delayed it by a week to 2 December.

Relations have been strained over Italy's refusal to extradite the Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan for trial in Turkey.

Despite safety assurances from Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, Juventus players had threatened to refuse to play if the game went ahead as planned.

Team captain Angelo Di Livio said: "We could decide not to go to Istanbul. We really do not want to risk our lives."

Midfielder Zinedine Zidane told La Stampa: "I'm not ashamed to say that I'm scared and I'm really not convinced about going to Turkey."

Secret location

Ankara says Mr Ocalan, who was arrested on his arrival in Italy, is a terrorist responsible through his PKK group for the deaths of 30,000 people.

But Italy says its constitution bans extradition to countries with the death penalty.

Mr Ocalan, who is claiming political asylum, was released by a court in Rome on Friday. He is now under police surveillance at a secret location.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Turkey over the past week in protest at Italy's decision.

Italy's Foreign Ministry has advised nationals not to travel to Turkey, warning that anyone who does should "exercise caution" and avoid places that are venues for large demonstrations.

"Every kind of guarantee has been given," Yilmaz told private ATV television on Sunday. "We are also considering banning demonstrations in Istanbul until the match."

Interior Minister Kutlu Aktas said up to 20,000 police and paramilitary forces will be assigned to provide the security during the match.





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