Court of Appeal rules that Americans can’t try Trabelsi

The former professional footballer Nizar Trabelsi, who was found guilty by a Belgian court in 2004 of having planned an attack on the Kleine Brogel airbase in Limburg Province may not be tried for the same offence by a court in the United States. On Thursday the Court of Appeal in Brussels ruled that if the United States authorities were to make Trabelsi stand trial in front of an American court they would be in contravention of the conditions of his extradition.


Nizar Trabelsi was detained in 2001 for planning an attack on the Kleine Brogel base. In 2004 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. After serving his sentence Trabelsi was extradited to the United States, where he has been since October 2013. The extradition was in contravention of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2015 Trabelsi’s legal team tried for a first time to obtain a ban on the Belgian state helping the American state in its preparation for a second trial. However, this was rejected by the Court of Appeal.  

The court ruled be would be convicted in the United States for offences for which he had already served time in Belgium.   

However, in the ruling made on Thursday the Court of Appeal now says that the case being brought by the American Judicial Authorities against Nizar Trabelsi is largely about his plan to attack Kleine Brogel. The trial is due to start on 9 September.

On Friday evening Nizar Trabelsi’s lawyers told journalists “The court believes that Americans’ prosecution of Trabelsi contravenes the conditions under which Belgium ,extradited him to the United States. The court has obliged the Belgian authorities to pass its rules on to the American legal authorities and has imposed a penalty payment clause of 5,000 euro for each day they fail to do so”.

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