In 1987, the headlines reported ‘Liverpool fans to stand trial in Belgium‘. Twenty-five English football fans involved in the Heysel stadium disaster were extradited to Belgium, following the tragedy before the 1985 European Cup Final between Juventus and Liverpool when thirty-nine people died.
Approximately one hour before the Juventus-Liverpool final was due to kick off, a large group of Liverpool fans breached a fence separating them from a neutral area which contained mostly Juventus fans. They ran back on the terraces and away from the danger into a concrete retaining wall. The fans already seated near the wall were crushed and eventually the wall collapsed. Many people climbed over to safety, but many others died or were badly injured. The game was played despite the disaster in order to prevent further violence.
The Liverpool supporters were charged with manslaughter. Britain’s biggest mass-extradition began at 10:25am when two large vans transported the prisoners from Wormwood in London to an RAF base in Oxfordshire. They were flown to Belgium in a military aircraft and driven immediately to the law courts in central Brussels, where they were questioned and formally remanded by magistrates.
Fourteen of the extradited fans were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter after a five-month trial. Seven men were given three-year prison terms and the remainder received three-year suspended sentences.