Military Judge orders Major Hasan to shave or be forcibly shaved
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The trial judge, Col. Gregory Gross, in U.S. vs. Maj. Nidal M. Hasan ordered Hasan, the accused, to shave his beard before proceeding with further hearings or trial Sept. 6 here.
Gross heard arguments by the defense and prosecution on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and whether the federal act supports the accused right to keep his beard.
Gross determined that RFRA does apply to court martial proceedings but ultimately ruled that the defense failed to meet their burden to prove that the beard should be allowed.
The defense argued that forcing Hasan to shave would leave him in a "perilous religious state." They argued that Hasan has sincere and genuine religious motives for growing a beard, which were further strengthened this year.
The government argued that Hasan is attempting to thwart in court identification by witnesses and is using the beard to manifest an outward desire to associate himself with the Mujahedeen, a radical Islamic movement.
A stay was not placed on the case but the defense is expected to appeal the decision with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA), an intermediate appellate court. This will prevent the parties from actually appearing in court until a final appellate decision is rendered.
In the meantime, both parties can continue to do business with the trial court, but are not expected to appear again in court until the RFRA issue is fully resolved.
Gross also ruled on a defense motion seeking to disqualify a prosecutor. Gross found that no prosecutorial misconduct had occurred therefore no disqualification was required.
No further hearings are set for the moment.
The accused is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
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