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Single-symbol maximum likelihood (ML) decodable distributed orthogonal space-time block codes (DOST- BCs) have been introduced recently for cooperative networks and an upper-bound on the maximal rate of such codes along with code constructions has been presented. In this paper, we introduce a new class of distributed space-time block codes (DSTBCs) called semi-orthogonal precoded distributed single-symbol decodable space-time block codes (Semi-SSD-PDSTBCs) wherein, the source performs preceding on the information symbols before transmitting it to all the relays. A set of necessary and sufficient conditions on the relay matrices for the existence of semi-SSD- PDSTBCs is proved. It is shown that the DOSTBCs are a special case of semi-SSD-PDSTBCs. A subset of semi-SSD-PDSTBCs having diagonal covariance matrix at the destination is studied and an upper bound on the maximal rate of such codes is derived. The bounds obtained are approximately twice larger than that of the DOSTBCs. A systematic construction of Semi- SSD-PDSTBCs is presented when the number of relays K ges 4 and the constructed codes are shown to have higher rates than that of DOSTBCs.