By Karen Brooks
AUSTIN, Texas | Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:03pm EDT
(Reuters) - A military court on Wednesday temporarily delayed the start of court-martial proceedings against Major Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army base, while it decides whether the Muslim Hasan's beard should be forcibly shaved.
Hasan, who faces 45 counts of murder and attempted murder for the November 2009 slayings, was expected to enter a plea of not guilty to the charges and begin his court-martial on Monday at the sprawling Central Texas military complex.
But the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces halted the hearing on Wednesday and said the case could not move forward until it determined whether Col. Gregory Gross, the presiding judge, could order soldiers to forcibly shave Hasan's beard.
The surprise delay jeopardizes plans for a pre-trial hearing on Friday and jury selection on Monday.