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Massacre suspect’s beard raises bias questions

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — An Army appeals court questioned on Thursday whether a military judge exceeded his authority in ordering the suspect in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, to remove his beard or be forcibly shaved.

Judges on the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals in Virginia also delved into a claim by Major Nidal Hasan’s lawyers that the military judge who issued the order is biased and should be replaced. The American-born Muslim psychiatristsays he grew his beard for religious reasons.

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Hasan’s murder trial in Texas is on hold while his lawyers pursue the appeal. Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack that killed 13 people and wounded more than two dozen others at the Army post about 130 miles southwest of Dallas.

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