The trial has opened in France of Pierre Chanal, a former French army commando accused of murdering three young men, including Irishman Trevor O'Keeffe, in the 1980s.

Mr O'Keeffe was found murdered in woods near the city of Reims in 1987. Pierre Chanal is suspected of murdering up to eight young men who disappeared in the area during the 1980s.

56-year-old Chanal, who attempted suicide in May, has been on hunger strike since July and has been force fed. Doctors ruled that he is too ill to attend the court, but he has been brought to a prison hospital nearby, where he will have daily transcripts of the trial read to him.

Dozens of relatives, including the family of Mr O'Keeffe, are attending the trial.

Chanal was arrested in August 1988, after kidnapping a Hungarian backpacker, and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was released in June 1995.

However, it was not until 1997 that fresh DNA evidence linking him to other murders was uncovered and he has been awaiting trial ever since.