Maj. Nidal Hasan (Jail photo)
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (October 11, 2012)--An Army appeals court Thursday in Virginia was questioning whether accused Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan can be forcibly shaved before he goes on trial.
Judges on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals also delved Thursday into a claim Hasan's lawyers that the judge who issued the order is biased and should be replaced.
Hasan’s court-martial at Fort Hood is on hold for the appeal, which stems from Hasan’s refusal to shave and the judge’s insistence that he does.
The American-born Muslim psychiatrist says he grew the whiskers for religious reasons.
Army rules prohibit beards, but allow for religious exceptions.
Military judge Col. Gregory Gross rejected Hasan's religious arguments and ordered him forcibly shaved unless he shaves himself.
The judges didn’t indicate when they might issue a ruling on the appeal, which may also be reviewed by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder and faces the death penalty if convicted in the November 2009 shooting rampage at the post’s Soldier Readiness Center.