An 11-member anti-terrorist squad will accompany Galatasaray to its UEFA Cup second-leg semifinal Thursday in Leeds, England, Interior Minister Sadettin Tantan said today.
Fearing reprisals following the stabbing deaths of two English fans in Istanbul two weeks ago, Galatasaray has asked for protection during the English trip, the daily Milliyet reported.
On Friday, UEFA rejected calls by Galatasaray to move the game to a neutral venue and banned Turkish fans from attending the match to prevent possible violence.
Tantan said the officers would not be allowed to take weapons to Leeds.
"After being officially assigned, we would protect Galatasaray better than the English," Milliyet quoted Ercument Yilmaz, deputy police chief in Istanbul, as saying. "No one should doubt about that."
Police officers in the Special Operations Department, which deals primarily with terrorists and protecting dignitaries, generally carry U.S.-made M-16 automatic assault rifles and are trained in martial arts.
Tension remains high after Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were stabbed to death in fights with Turks in Istanbul on the eve of the first-leg match on April 6, which Galatasaray won 2-0.
Tantan told the daily Radikal today that an investigation was under way to determine whether the police failed to take adequate measures to prevent the incidents.
"Who ever did not fulfil his duty, the necessary will be carried out," Tantan said.
Four Turks were formally charged with murder Friday in the stabbings, with the prosecutor seeking two 30-year sentences to be served consecutively.
Although fans from Turkey are denied entry to the game, many Turks living in Europe who hold dual citizenship are expected to attend the match.
Meanwhile, Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim chided Turkish diplomats in London for not hiring guards to protect him during his visit to Leeds over the weekend.
"We expressed our sorrow several times as the nation and as the club," Terim said. "But neither Galatasaray nor the Turkish nation can be held responsible for the incidents and the two murders."