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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 23:22 GMT 00:22 UK
US sets up new Guantanamo panels
Guantanamo Bay detainees
There are nearly 600 prisoners at the US military base in Cuba
The US government is setting up new military tribunals to review the legal status of terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon says.

The move follows a Supreme Court ruling giving inmates the right to challenge their detention in US courts.

Officials say the 595 prisoners will be notified of this right within 10 days.

The new so-called Combatant Status Review tribunals will consist of three officers, at least one of whom will be a military lawyer.

But the detainees will not have access to a lawyer themselves for these tribunals - only another military officer to assist them.

The BBC's Nick Childs in Washington says the Bush administration has been under pressure to react to last week's Supreme Court ruling.

Lawyers for nine detainees have already filed writs in the Washington federal court.

Preparations for trials

Our correspondent says it is unlikely that critics will be satisfied with this response and it probably will not stop court challenges by detainees.

However, he adds, Bush administration officials clearly hope that if those challenges take place, the tribunals will help the authorities to argue that the detainees have had a proper review of their detentions.

The Pentagon has made clear that the new tribunals are separate from the military commissions being set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.

On that front, the administration on Wednesday designated nine more prisoners as eligible for trial.

The defence department has not revealed their identity.

It says there are ground to believe that they are members of al-Qaeda or otherwise involved in terrorism against the US.

This brings to 15 the number of Guantanamo prisoners eligible for tribunals.

No date has been set for a trial.

The BBC's Nick Childs
"Last week's Supreme Court ruling sent shockwaves through the Bush administration and the Pentagon"

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