Court rules Fort Hood massacre suspect must shave beard

8:03 AM, Oct 19, 2012   |    comments
Undated photo of Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shootings
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FORT HOOD, TEXAS (CBSNews.com) - An Army appeals court has ruled that the Fort Hood shooting suspect can have his facial hair forcibly shaved off before his murder trial.

The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals' opinion issued Thursday upheld the military trial judge's decision to order Maj. Nidal Hasan to appear in court clean shaven or be forcibly shaved.

It also ruled that Col. Gregory Gross, the judge, properly found that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn't give Hasan the right to have a beard while in uniform at trial.

"Forced shaving is not a novel concept in the military," military attorneys said in the judge's response filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces earlier this year. "Army regulations expressly authorize nonconsensual haircutting and face-shaving for recalcitrant incarcerated soldiers. ... If the judge has authority to bind and gag a disruptive accused (soldier), then certainly he has authority to forcibly shave (Hasan)."

Hasan has said the beard is an expression of his Muslim faith. His attorneys say they'll appeal the ruling.

Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post that killed 13 and injured over 30 others.

The beard first became an issue in June, when he surprised the judge by showing up in court with the facial hair.

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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