The 12 stand accused of five attacks, an act deemed extremely offensive in Amish culture. Prosecutors allege an internal religious dispute was the motivation for the attacks.

Many Amish believe that the Bible instructs women to wear their hair long and for men to stop shaving after marriage.

In Amish society, punishments are often decided internally and crimes are rarely reported to the police. Some of the victims had refused to press charges.

Prosecutors have argued that the charges of conspiracy, assault and evidence tampering amounted to hate crimes prompted by religious differences.

The man alleged to be the group’s leader, Samuel Mullet, has denied ordering the attacks.

Although Mullet’s lawyer submitted his client was not violent and would not flee, prosecutors argued that he may not return to court and that sending police to his rural family compound would risk “tragic consequences”.

The use of use an electric tag to monitor his movements was impossible as Mullet’s residence did not have electricity, they added.

In an interview with the Associated Press in October, Mullet said he had not ordered the beard- and hair-cutting attacks, but that he had not stopped anyone from carrying them out.

He said he wanted to make other members of the Amish community ashamed of the way they were treating him and his group.