The US Department of Defense announced on Saturday it had transferred six detainees out of Guantanamo, leaving about 245 at the offshore prison as US president-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office.
Four detainees were sent to Iraq, one to Algeria and one to Afghanistan after a series of reviews, the Department of Defense said in a statement. Obama has vowed to close the detention center in southeast Cuba and stop the military commissions.
Still, military judges rejected last-minute requests to postpone pretrial hearings scheduled to begin today for five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks and a Canadian accused of killing a US soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan.
Defense lawyers have sought to halt the cases — or at least delay them pending a review by the Obama administration.
And the chief prosecutor, Army Colonel Lawrence Morris, said the prosecution was seeking a delay for “efficiency” and legal reasons.
“We’re still in business. We’re going to court Monday,” Morris said on Saturday.
Morris said he has to be prepared to go forward because he does not know when Obama will halt the trials and order the closure of the prison.
The Pentagon said the transfer of the six prisoners “is a demonstration of the United States’ desire not to hold detainees any longer than necessary.”