Bereaved families hope for justice as trial of 'IS Beatle' El Shafee Elsheikh begins

ITV News North America Correspondent Emma Murphy reports on the trial of El Shafee Elsheikh - a member of the so-called Islamic State Beetles

He was the proud ISIS fighter who would repeatedly tell of his role in one of the worst hostage taking and killing episodes in recent history.

In interviews in Syria after he was hauled from the battlefield into the custody of the Syrian Defence Forces, El Shafee Elsheikh made no secret of his involvement moving ISIS detainees from place to place.

There was no apparent shame more an apparent arrogance.

What a difference a few months make.

No longer the long haired jihadi, the 33-year-old from London today looked more like a slick office worker than a man accused of playing his part in the beheading of aid workers and journalists.

To the jury who will judge him, El Sheik now sports a tidy haircut, a pale blue shirt and heavy rimmed glasses. Only his beard a suggestion of his old identity.

How much his appearance has changed shocked family members of those he is accused of abducting, torturing and killing.

Clean hands on the desk in front of him, he listened as the prosecution told how he was an integral part of the Beatles gang of British fighters and gave terrible detail as to what those hands are said to have done.

Not so say his defence team. Yes, he was a fighter but he had no part in the murders.

Alexanda Amon Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh were part of the group known as the 'Beatles'.

The words the court will hear, from interview after interview, were simply his attempt to save himself from being summarily tried and then executed as was happening to other fighters at the time.

By being someone of more significance and therefore interest to America and the West he could save himself that fate and have a fair hearing in court.

He is getting that hearing now and so far what has been heard is a dreadful summary of brutality.

The families of the dead and missing are here to listen and watch. Their hope is that the jury find that appearances can be deceptive.