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Belgium told to pay €100K in damages for extraditing terrorist to US

Belgium must pay compensation of around €100,000 to convicted terrorist Nizar Trabelsi for the damage he suffered by being extradited to the U.S., a Brussels appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The court also ruled that the Belgian government should ask the American authorities to send back Trabelsi.

Trabelsi, a Tunisian former professional footballer, was convicted in Belgium in 2003 for planning to attack the Kleine-Brogel air base, where U.S. military staff are based. He was given a 10-year sentence, which he served, and then Belgium extradited him to the U.S., despite the European Court of Human Rights ruling that he should not be sent across the Atlantic. According to the U.S., Trabelsi met al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden not long before the September 2001 attacks on the U.S.

Trabelsi has now spent almost a decade in custody in the U.S. According to a report by a special envoy to the United Nations cited by local media, he is being kept in isolation, with no daylight in his cell and with artificial lights on 24 hours a day. The report also says he does not receive appropriate care and medication.

The Brussels Court of Appeal ordered the Belgian state to pay a sum of €10,000 per year that Trabelsi has spent in an American prison — totaling almost €100,000.

Trabelsi’s lawyer Christophe Marchand said he was satisfied with Tuesday’s court ruling, saying that “we are convinced that if Belgium sends a note to the U.S., it will be impossible to keep him in an American prison.”

A spokesman for the minister of justice said the authorities are “thoroughly studying the judgment to determine further steps.”

In 2016, the Belgian state was ordered to pay €78,000 in damages to Trabelsi and his family because of the extradition.

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