An Algerian courtroom has sentenced a person to loss of life for the kidnapping and homicide of French hiker Hervé Gourdel in 2014, after a excessive profile one-day trial.
Gourdel, 55, was kidnapped in September 2014 whereas exploring the rugged massif in Algeria’s Djurdjura Nationwide Park, a draw for hikers, but additionally lengthy a sanctuary for jihadists.
Three days after he disappeared, gunmen from militant group Jund al-Khilafa – a jihadist faction affiliated to the Islamic State armed group – printed a grotesque video of his beheading and claimed accountability for his loss of life.
The trial opened on Thursday with 14 defendants, eight of whom had been accused of being jihadists and had been charged with Gourdel’s kidnapping and homicide.
Solely one of many eight, Abdelmalek Hamzaoui, appeared in courtroom, with the opposite seven tried and sentenced to loss of life in absentia.
Questioned by the decide, Hamzaoui had denied having taken half in Gourdel’s abduction and killing, telling the courtroom he was accused solely to “shut the case and please the French”.
Hamzaoui was sentenced to loss of life, however Algeria has had a moratorium on executions since 1993.
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‘Nonetheless in shock’
Members of Gourdel’s household, together with his companion Françoise Grandclaude, attended the trial.
“I discover it very troublesome to speak about him (Gourdel), we’re nonetheless in shock,” Grandclaude mentioned. “However I keep in mind that there are plenty of inconsistencies within the phrases of the principle accused.”
Six others additionally on trial, accused of failing to tell authorities promptly of Gourdel’s abduction, had been all acquitted, in line with an AFP journalist on the courtroom.
5 had been Gourdel’s climbing companions and spent 14 hours in captivity together with him earlier than being launched.
A number of of them formally recognized Hamzaoui in courtroom as being one among their kidnappers.
Their legal professionals mentioned additionally they had been victims of the kidnapping, whereas a sixth man, whose automobile was stolen to move Gourdel, was additionally cleared of expenses.
Gourdel’s homicide sparked outrage in each France and Algeria, the place it triggered recollections of the 1992-2002 civil conflict between Islamists and the military that left some 200,000 useless.
The homicide got here within the wake of the Islamic State group’s dramatic takeover of northern Iraq and Syria in the summertime of 2014.
Gourdel, an skilled mountaineer, had travelled to Algeria to check out a brand new climb.
His kidnappers demanded an finish to air strikes towards IS in Iraq and Syria by a US-led coalition that included France.
They posted a video of his beheading on-line after Paris rejected their demand.
François Hollande, French president on the time, condemned the killing as a “merciless and cowardly” act.
Gourdel’s physique was not recovered till January 2015, after an operation involving some 3,000 Algerian troops.
Earlier this month, his companion Françoise Grandclaude welcomed the information that the trial was “lastly going down” and hoped it may supply “hope for the households and family members of victims affected by terrorism”.