Four charged as Leeds wait for UEFA decision

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The Independent Online

Four men were today formally charged with murder over the deaths of two Leeds United supporters in Istanbul last week, according to reports from Turkey.

Prosecutor Osman Ikizoglu said he had filed an indictment charging four suspects with the murders of Britons Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight and was demanding they serve up to 30 years in prison.

Mr Speight, 40, and Mr Loftus, 35, were stabbed to death on the eve of last week's Uefa Cup semi-final first leg between Galatasaray and Leeds.

News of the charges came as a ruling was awaited from Uefa, European football's ruling body, today on whether 1,500 fans of the Turkish team will be allowed to attend next Thursday's second leg at Leeds' Elland Road ground.

Conflicting reports claim Uefa will either allow a small number of Turkish fans into the stadium or have the game played behind closed doors.

Turkish Football Federation president Haluk Ulusoy said: "We understand Uefa will rule that no supporters will attend the game, either from Galatasaray or Leeds.

"That must be the correct decision if a neutral venue cannot be found. We feel that the only way the English can guarantee security is if the game is played in an empty stadium."

Graham Turner, Uefa's spokesman, last night signalled that an alternative venue was not an option.

He said: "I do not think it is any longer an issue of holding it at Elland Road or not.

"It took us three months to organise a venue for the under-21 play-off between England and Yugoslavia in Barcelona last month.

"Where could you find a stadium ready to stage a Uefa Cup semi-final with about four days' notice? We don't have a queue of clubs lining up to stage the match."

Leeds and West Yorkshire Police have said they cannot guarantee the safety of Galatasaray supporters.

The widow of Mr Speight last night appealed for Galatasaray supporters to stay away from the match as a mark of respect.

In a statement issued through her solicitor, Susan Speight, who has two children, said: "Susan, George and Holly have suffered a great loss and they do not want to see more innocent people suffer.

"It is in this spirit that Susan asks on behalf of her children and family that those intent on causing trouble stay away from the game and that the game be played as a peaceful tribute to Kevin and Christopher Loftus and the world can be shown that no matter what the provocation the match can pass off peaceably.

"It is also in this spirit that Susan and the family would ask all the supporters of Galatasaray to stay away from the game as a mark of respect.

"Kevin's wish was that Leeds United win the trophy. That would be a fitting tribute to him and Christopher Loftus."

Mr Speight's private funeral is in Leeds on Monday.