19 Aug 2012

Fort Hood trial postponement over beard

6:05 am on 19 August 2012

The trial of a man accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009 has been postponed because of a dispute about his beard.

Major Nidal Hasan's lawyers say the beard is an expression of his Muslim faith, but army regulations state that soldiers must be clean shaven.

It is also argued that the beard makes it hard for witnesses to identify him.

The trial has already been delayed several times.

Major Hasan, 41, had been due to enter a plea on Wednesday, with the court martial due to begin on Monday.

The BBC reports that until now, the judge has not allowed Major Hasan to stay in the courtroom, because being unshaven violates army regulations.

He has had to watch proceedings on closed-circuit television from a nearby room. But the judge says he must be present during the court-martial.

Lawyers for Major Hasan say he has had a premonition that his death is imminent and he believes that dying without a beard would be a sin.