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Hearing on shave for Texas base shooter Thursday

(Reuters) - A U.S. Army appeals court is set on Thursday to hear appeals filed by Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood massacre suspect, over his refusal to appear clean shaven at court martial.

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals will hear oral arguments at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on Hasan's motions. He is accused of shooting to death 13 people at the Texas base in November 2009.

A U.S. military judge ordered Hasan last month to shave off his beard or be forcibly shaved, ruling that it was not covered by laws protecting religious freedom. He said Army grooming regulations, which prohibit beards, overrode his religious exercise.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is appealing that ruling. He has said he grew the beard in line with the beliefs of his Islamic faith.

He faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. A court martial that had been set for August 20 was put on hold because of the beard issue.

Police shot Hasan during his alleged rampage, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Hasan is being held at a county jail near Fort Hood and was hospitalized in late September for an undisclosed ailment.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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