The military judge who ordered the Fort Hood shooting suspect to shave off his beard has been removed from the case.
The accused man, Major Nidal Hasan, is a Muslim blamed for the killings of 13 people on the Texas army base in 2009 and could face the death penalty if found guilty.
The judge in the court martial, Colonel Gregory Gross, had ordered Hasan’s beard shaven off for the trial, either voluntarily or by force, arguing it violated army regulations.
But on Monday the US military’s highest court court appeal removed Gross and threw out the shaving order, saying Gross appeared to have failed to remain impartial. The court suggested Gross had engaged in a "duel of wills" with Hasan about his beard and other matters.
The court said it was not ruling on whether the judge’s order violated Hasan’s religious rights. Hasan has argued his beard is a requirement of his Muslim faith.
"Should the next military judge find it necessary to address [Hasan’s] beard, such issues should be addressed and litigated anew," judges wrote in the ruling.