Fort Hood, TX, United States (4E) – A judge involved in the case of the man suspected of killing 13 people in an army base in Fort Hood, Texas has been removed by a military appeals court Monday.
According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Colonel Gregory Gross showed impartiality in the case of Major Nidal Hasan.
The court also overturned an order for the defendant’s beard to be forcibly shaved before his court martial.
If convicted, Hasan will face the death penalty for the 2009 fatal shooting rampage at the Texas Army post that also wounded 32 people.
The suspect appealed after Gross declared that he must be clean-shaven or be forcibly shaved before the court-martial.
Gross claimed Hasan’s beard was a disruption to the court proceedings while Hasan said his beard is required by his Muslim faith, although it violated Army rules.
The court said Gross had “allowed the proceedings to become a duel of wills between himself and Major Nidal Hasan, rather than an adjudication of the serious offenses with which Hasan is charged”
The appeals court stated the command, not the judge, should enforce grooming standards.
In the ruling, the judges said “Should the next military judge find it necessary to address his beard, such issues should be addressed and litigated anew.”
However, the court said the decision, is not ruling on whether Hasan’s religious rights were violated.
The court-martial was scheduled to start three months ago, but was put on hold due to the appeals.