The International Crimes Tribunal-2 asked four defence counsels of two war crimes accused Jamaat leaders to explain by December 6 their absence in the court yesterday.
Observing their conduct as “unsatisfactory and unbecoming”, the three-member tribunal led by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir asked the defence counsels to reply why their absence would not be considered as misconduct.
None of the counsels of Abdul Quader Mollah and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman appeared before the tribunal yesterday, the scheduled day for case proceedings, amid daylong hartal enforced by Jamaat-e-Islami.
Meanwhile, the tribunal issued a show-cause notice upon the editor and a reporter of the Bangladesh Pratidin for publishing report setting an “imaginary timeline” of passing verdict in a case.
The tribunal, on its own motion, asked reporter Ahmed Al Amin to appear before it tomorrow and give his written explanation why contempt of court proceeding would not be initiated against him.
The court also asked the daily's editor to submit his explanation through his lawyer the same day.
Passing the order, Justice Kabir said none of the defence counsels appeared before the tribunal on the scheduled day.
“It is a matter of disregard to the court order,” said Justice Kabir, adding, “Their conduct appears to be unsatisfactory and unbecoming.”
The tribunal directed Mollah's counsels Abdus Sobhan Tarafder and Tajul Islam to submit written replies as to why they could not appear before the court and why their absence should not be considered as misconduct.
The tribunal passed a similar order upon Kafil Uddin Chowdhury and Ehsan A Siddiq, two conducting defence counsels of Kamaruzzaman's case, for the same reason and asked them to give reply by the same time.
Afterwards, the tribunal fixed today for the case proceeding against Mollah and Sunday for Kamaruzzaman's case.
At the beginning of yesterday's proceeding, the tribunal said Bangla daily Bangladesh Pratidin on Monday published a report, which related the case against Mollah pending with the court.
The report said verdict in Mollah's case might be declared on December 27.
“How could it be foretold? In the name of freedom of press or speech, nobody can so predict on a sub-judice case. Nobody does have the jurisdiction of foretelling such imaginary dates as to sub-judice proceeding,” Justice Kabir observed.
“It apparently causes obstruction to independence and fairness of the tribunal,” he added.
Mentioning the court's order on November 13, Justice Kabir said, “We have categorically observed that this tribunal legally expects the responsible persons, especially those who are associated with the party in power, shall in future show their prudence by restraining themselves from setting imaginary time limit for disposal of a sub-judice matter in the interest of upholding independence of the tribunal and fair justice.”