Three top Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for the second time yesterday did not appear before the International Crimes Tribunal-2 citing "unavoidable circumstances" to explain a contempt of court rule issued against them.
Claiming their absence as "disobedience to the court's order", the prosecution sought issuance of arrest warrant to ensure their presence.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan "for the last time" extended time until March 3 saying "necessary order" would be passed if the Jamaat leaders failed to appear before it next time.
Earlier on February 7, the tribunal asked the three to explain why contempt of court proceeding would not be initiated against them for making provocative and derogatory remarks about the tribunal.
Jamaat acting secretary general Rafiqul Islam Khan, Central Executive Council member Hamidur Rahman Azad, MP, and Dhaka city unit Assistant Secretary General Selim Uddin were asked to appear before the court on February 20.
The tribunal issued the notice on the basis of reports published in The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo on February 5 on a Jamaat rally held in the city the previous day.
The Prothom Alo quoted Selim Uddin as saying, "There is no scope for the controversial tribunal to deliver any verdict if the country is to be saved from a civil war." The daily quoted Azad as saying at the same programme, "This tribunal cannot exist anymore."
The Daily Star in a report headlined "Jamaat warns of civil war" quoted Rafiqul Islam as saying, "Don't push the country into a civil war by delivering one-sided verdicts against our leaders. If anything happens to Quader Mollah, every house will be on fire."
On February 20, Shahadat Hossain, lawyer of the Jamaat leaders, told the tribunal his clients could not appear before the court due to "unavoidable situations" and sought time.
The tribunal extended time until yesterday and asked the Jamaat trio to appear before the court "without further failure".
However, Golam Mohammad Chowdhury Alal, another lawyer of the Jamaat leaders, yesterday said their clients could not appear before the court due to "unavoidable situation" and sought at least seven days' time.
Alal did not elaborate on the "unavoidable situation".
Asked, Shahadat Hossain told The Daily Star their clients did not explain the "situation".
Prosecutor Rana Dasgupta said the Jamaat leaders' lawyers could not show any reasonable grounds for their absence and sought arrest warrant to ensure their appearance.
The tribunal gave them a "last chance" and extended the time saying, "If they don't appear before the court [next day], necessary order would be passed."
On Friday, in a countrywide reign of terror, Jamaat and its sympathisers attacked law enforcers and journalists, burned the national flag and vandalised Shaheed Minars to counter the mass demand for capital punishment to 1971 war criminals.
The three leaders are accused in the cases filed in connection with Friday's vandalism.
Meanwhile, the defence of BNP standing committee member MK Anwar submitted his explanation over a show-cause notice the tribunal had issued earlier.
Anwar's counsel Munshi Ahsan Kabir submitted the reply and the tribunal fixed Thursday for hearing the matter following a time petition of the prosecution.
Following a prosecution petition, the tribunal on January 24 issued the show-cause notice to Anwar to explain his alleged derogatory comments over the war crimes trial.
The tribunal also completed recording cross-examination of Sakti Saha, 13th prosecution witness in the case against Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed before adjourning the case proceeding until March 5.
The tribunal also rejected a petition of another Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman for submitting additional documents in the case.
Following a time petition of Kamaruzzaman's defence, the tribunal also adjourned the case proceeding until March 3 when the first defence witness is expected to testify.