The ultra right-wing Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM) leader and another ANM member, Matthew Billing, skipped bail last month ahead of their West Australian District Court trial for allegedly plotting to firebomb four Chinese restaurants in 2004.
The trial of the pair, and a third co-accused John van Blitterswyk, had been due to begin today.
But the trial date was cancelled two weeks ago after the missing pair failed to meet bail conditions in February, sparking a nationwide manhunt.
Mr van Blitterswyk turned up at court today but there was no sign of Mr van Tongeren or Mr Billing, leaving their families facing the prospect of losing tens of thousands of dollars they put up as surety.
Outside the court, Mr van Tongeren’s lawyer Geoffrey Vickridge said his client’s failure to appear meant the state could begin proceedings to recover $30,000 surety his mother had put up.
Unless there was “a very good reason” for Mr van Tongeren’s absence, that was the situation, he said.
Mr Billing’s father also stands to lose $10,000.
Mr Vickridge said he did not know where his client was and feared for the safety of the unwell, 57-year-old Vietnam veteran.
“I am most concerned for the welfare of Mr van Tongeren,” he said.
“I don’t know if he is still alive. I’d be most obliged if he would telephone me as it is in his best interest.”
Warrants have been issued for the arrests of Mr van Tongeren and Mr Billing who, along with Mr van Blitterswyk, were to be tried over an alleged conspiracy to firebomb Chinese restaurants in Perth between June 1 and July 16, 2004.
All three men have denied the charges against them.
The case was adjourned today until a status conference on June 20, giving prosecutors time to decide how they will proceed.
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