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Federal judge halts Guantanamo habeas cases pending appeals ruling

[JURIST] US District Judge Reggie Walton on Wednesday denied several motions challenging the ongoing detentions of 16 Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees, ruling that until the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit decides whether civilian judges may hear cases under the 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA) [PDF text; JURIST news archive], he is without jurisdiction to consider the motions. Walton noted that the cases would be immediately reopened if the appeals court rules that civilian judges may hear habeas corpus petitions under the MCA. AP has more.

President George W. Bush signed the MCA [CRS summary] in October after the US Congress approved the bill [JURIST report] in late September. The law became necessary after the US Supreme Court ruled last June that the commissions, as initially constituted by the president, lacked proper legal authorization [JURIST report]. The law provides statutory authorization for military commission trials for Guantanamo Bay, which will be governed by procedures laid out in the DOD's Manual for Military Commissions [PDF text], circulated [JURIST report] earlier this month.

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