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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 14:59 GMT
Acquittal plea in soccer death trial
Suspects accused of killing Leeds United fans, guarded by police
A total of 19 men were arrested after the affray
A Turkish judge has been asked to acquit eleven Galatasaray supporters accused of being involved in the murder of two Leeds United fans in Istanbul.

Christopher Loftus, 37, and father-of-two Kevin Speight, 40, were stabbed when trouble flared before Leeds United's UEFA Cup game against the Turkish team in 2000.

Following the prosecution call for the acquittals, the case was adjourned until 4 April - almost two years to the day since the pair of Yorkshire fans were killed.

The Turkish judge refused a defence request for a reconstruction of the night's events.

Slow procedure

Defence solicitors had argued it was the only way to prove their clients' innocence of a double-murder charge.

Despite a number of men being arrested soon after the attacks, the case has moved at a slow pace.

The prosecution had argued for the 11 acquittals, saying the men were on the edge of the night's troubles.

The latest adjournment is the fourth delay in the case against five men accused of the killings.

It is not unusual for defendants to spend years on remand waiting for their cases to work their way through the Turkish courts.

Defence accusations

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

The men face charges ranging from homicide to involvement in a brawl.

Only one of the accused has been remanded in custody.

Defence lawyers have challenged prosecution evidence and argued drunken behaviour by the Leeds fans provoked the trouble.

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See also:

11 Feb 02 | Europe
Turkish justice moves slowly
24 Dec 01 | Europe
Leeds deaths trial adjourned
23 May 00 | Europe
Turkish soccer death trial begins
06 Apr 00 | Europe
Fans' anguish at deaths
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