Five Galatasaray fans detained in murder probe of Red Star fan Ivkovic
Red Star Belgrade supporters light candles on Nov. 22 at St. Mark's Church in Belgrade, in memory of the 25-year-old Marko Ivkovic. AFP PhotoFive Turkish football fans have been detained, after the police established a special task force to investigate the murder of 25-year-old Marko Ivkovic, who was killed Nov. 21 before a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game between Galatasaray Liv Hospital and Red Star Belgrade in Istanbul.
Police were initially not able to find any leads about the incident after examining footage recorded by security cameras in the area. Eight Galatasaray fans interrogated by the police all said they did not see the murder and were not involved in any attack against Red Star fans.
After revealing a new footage, the police detained five Galatasaray fans Nov. 25.
Ivkovic was killed 250 meters away from Abdi İpekçi Sports Hall, where the game was played. According to initial findings, he was not among the fans who arrived at the venue by bus but came separately in a car with three of his friends.
Hours after Ivkovic was killed, the Serbian side claimed in a written statement that he was killed by Galatasaray hooligans, while the Istanbul police said the killing was the result of a fight among Red Star supporters.
“There were incidents among Galatasaray supporters and Red Star fans who did not have tickets to watch the Turkish Airlines Euroleague game between Galatasaray Liv Hospital and Red Star, before the game on Nov. 21,” Istanbul police said in a written statement.
“The two groups threw stones and bottles at each other but the police kept them apart. It was understood that one supporter was stabbed and killed while the Red Star fans were being escorted from the venue. A probe has been launched into the incident,” the statement added.
The murder has strained relations between Turkey and Serbia, with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic voicing “outrage over the monstrous murder,” according to a government statement on Nov. 22.
Serbia demands that the perpetrator be urgently “found, arrested and most severely punished,” it added.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called Vucic to express his condolences over the death.
Davutoğlu voiced regret over the killing of Ivkovic and pledged that Turkish authorities would do everything to find the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, the Red Star supporter group “Delije,” which Ivkovic was a member of, has promised revenge of the killing, raising tension ahead of a water polo game in Belgrade between Galatasaray and Partizan on Nov. 29.
Galatasaray executive Emre Danışmend said the club would follow through on the fixture and travel to Belgrade.
“The presidents of both club talked and agreed,” he said. “The situation has nothing to do with us, we will go there and play our game.”
Fan groups of Olympiakos and CSKA have also pledged to join counterparts from Red Star in traveling to Istanbul for another match on Dec. 18, pledging that “Orthodox fraternity would take revenge.” Red Star’s bitter city rivals, Partizan, also lent support to Delije. During a match over the weekend, Partizan supporters torched a Galatasaray banner, prompting cheers from the rest of the crowd.
Some members of UltrAslan, a Galatasaray supporters’ group, have also added to the tension by creating one of their own banners, featuring a checklist of the supporter groups for Red Star, Olympiakos, Partizan and CSKA and the words, “Who’s Next?” as well as a check mark by Red Star’s name.
Galatasaray supporters gained international notoriety for stabbing two Leeds United supporters, Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, to death during the 2000 UEFA Cup semifinal in Istanbul.