Algeria delays trial of jihadist suspect in murder of Frenchman Hervé Gourdel

The trial of fourteen suspects in the 2014 beheading of French mountaineer Hervé Gourdel has been postponed until February 18th, a court in Algiers ruled on Thursday, citing the main suspect's poor health.

Only one is known to be in custody, Abdelmalek Hamzaoui - associated with Jund al-Khilafa (Arabic for Soldiers of the Caliphate) - who appeared in court in a wheelchair after undergoing hip surgery.

The presiding judge decided to postpone the start of the trial, citing Hamzaoui's poor health.

Seven others will be tried in absentia, but no details have been made public on what charges they face.

Gourdel's Algerian guides are also accused of failing to alert the authorities to his kidnapping, while another, unidentified person is facing unspecified charges.

Speaking ahead of the trial's postponement, Gourdel's partner Francoise Grandclaude said the proceedings could offer "hope for the families and loved ones of victims affected by terrorism”.

Gourdel's gruesome killing caused shock both in France and in Algeria, where it triggered memories of the decade-long civil war between Islamists and the army in which some 200,000 people died.

The murder came in the wake of the IS group's dramatic takeover of northern Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014.

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