(Clearwisdom.net) On July 28, 2009, the Yuanbao District Court of Dandong City, Liaoning Province convened a session to try Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Wang Xiangju. Presiding Judge Wang and criminal court Presiding Judge Ma Shuhe repeatedly told the defense lawyer not to actively defend Ms. Wang Xiangju and not to enter an innocent plea. They threatened a harsher sentence if the lawyer did not comply.
Ma Shuhe, the criminal court presiding judge of Yuanbao District Court of Dandong City said, "We will interrupt if the lawyer tries to defend his client. After three such instances, the lawyer will be expelled from the courtroom. The lawyer may only do a brief defense." Ma Shuhe also warned the lawyer "not to cause any trouble" and to follow the court's requirements.
Ms. Wang Xiangju's Arrest
Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Wang Xiangju was arrested on March 31, 2009 by officers from the Jinshan Police Station in Hamatang.
On March 30, 2009, on her way back home from the market, Ms. Wang Xiangju was dragged into a police car by a uniformed officer and several plainclothes officers. The police then took her to the Jinshan Police Station. They searched her and found six CD's in her bag. On the afternoon of March 31, the police sent Ms. Wang Xiangju to the Dandong City Detention Center.
Over the past several months, Ms. Wang Xiangju's family has requested her release several times, but to no avail.
Ms. Wang Xiangju's family hired a lawyer to defend her. However, as the lawyer prepared for the case, he encountered interference and denial of information from Zheng Xiangyang, the deputy director of the police station, Li Xiaomei, a staff member of the Pre-trial Division of the Yuanbao District Public Security Bureau, and other people from the Yuanbao District .
Due to Ms. Wang Xiangju's poor health, her family asked for her to be released on bail, but their request was denied.
Before the Trial
On the morning of July 27, 2009, Ms. Wang Xiangju's defense counsel went to Yuanbao District Court and requested to review the case. After confirming the lawyer's identity, Ma Shuhe brought him to the court's Presiding Judge Wang.
Wang told the lawyer that the paperwork was with the Procuratorate and that he had to wait until the morning of August 28, the trial date, to review it at the Protectorate. However, later in the meeting, Wang took out the trial's paperwork right in front of the lawyer. He then asked, "Do you plan to handle this case personally?" Wang replied, "I need to do some research on it."
Below is an excerpt of the conversation between the presiding judge of the court and the lawyer, per the lawyer's account:
Wang: How can you make an innocent plea for a Falun Gong practitioner? You can only make a guilty plea for them.
The lawyer: The plea should be based on whether my client's specific acts have constituted a crime. After investigation, if my client is found to have broken the law, I will then defend her from that standpoint. If my client has not committed any crime, then I will defend her innocence. Moreover, as a lawyer, I don't think there is any relationship between my defense and the court's opinion, right?
Wang: The authorities have already clearly specified the nature of Falun Gong.
The lawyer: It seems there is no such thing from a legal standpoint. Am I right? If there is such a regulation, I would like to see some documentation on that. However, I have not seen any legal document on this topic.
Wang: Yes. There is a document on that. (She took out a document from her desk and handed it over to the lawyer. Before he could finish looking at more than a few lines, Wang took it back and made a phone call.)
Wang: Do you practice Falun Gong? I think you look like a Falun Gong practitioner. You are not allowed to promote Falun Gong in the court.
The lawyer: No. I do not practice Falun Gong, but I don't know how you define a Falun Gong practitioner. Based on my knowledge, the police in places where they detain Falun Gong practitioners are required to read the book Zhuan Falun. Would you consider them Falun Gong?
Wang: We called your law firm and people in your law firm said that you practice Falun Gong.
The lawyer: That's impossible. I will have to look into that.
After meeting with the lawyer, Ma Shuhe warned the lawyer not to enter an innocent plea and not to talk about Falun Gong in general. He warned that the lawyer would be expelled if he did not follow these rules.
Time: 9 a.m. July 28, 2009
Location: The No. 1 Yuanbao District Court of Dandong City, Liaoning Province
Judicial officers: Ma Shuhe, the criminal court presiding judge of Yuanbao District Court, Li Ying, a man from the political department.
Prosecutors: Yu Xiaowei from the Indictment Branch, and another person (unidentified)
Ms. Wang Xiangju was brought to the court wearing handcuffs. An excerpt of the exchanges in the court is below.
Prosecutor: Ms. Wang Xiangju was once sentenced to a five-year jail term because of practicing Falun Gong. Since she is a repeat case, and the punishment for her should be more severe.
Defense Lawyer: About Falun Gong being labeled as ... (The lawyer was not able to finish his sentence.)
Judge: This has nothing to do with this case. Stop talking about that. Continue with the next part.
Defense Lawyer: Ms. Wang Xiangju saw six CD's on the first floor of her apartment building when she went out to buy groceries. She picked them up and put them in her bag and thought she might give those CD's to some people at the market. However, she did not give out any of them. What law did she break? When you arrested her, you did not even know what was on the CD's. How did you confirm that she had committed a crime?
Prosecutor: Refer to the testimony of the witness Hu. In his testimony, Hu said that he met two women in their 50s who tried to tell him about Falun Gong and tried to give him some CD's and literature. He did not accept them. One of the women was Wang Xiangju, who was wearing green clothing, blue pants and looked just like Ms. Wang Xiangju. The prosecutor then displayed photos of Ms. Wang as matching the description given in the testimony, but they were taken after her arrest.
Another witness was named Kong Fanqiang. In his written testimony, it was stated that during the New Year's season, he was shopping in a market and met a woman in her 50's who tried to give him some CD's and materials. He did not accept them. He said that he would be able to recognize that woman if he saw her again.
After reading the testimony, the lawyer and Ms. Wang Xiangju both requested that the witness be brought to the court for a cross-examination. Ma Shuhe ignored the request.
To the question raised by the defense lawyer about which laws Ms. Wang Xiangju had violated, Prosecutor Yu Xiaowei only said that Ms. Wang Xiangju's behavior was in violation of regulations not allowing people to promote or distribute Falun Gong CD's and materials. He did not reference an actual law.
Defense Lawyer: Yesterday, presiding judge of the court and I ...
Judge: Stop talking about things that have nothing to do with this case.
In her final statement, Ms. Wang Xiangju objected in being denied to face the witnesses that accused her and not being given the law that she supposedly broke.
- During the trial, there were many police gathered in front of the court gate, walking back and forth. Ms. Wang's family was only given two seats for the trial, while the rest of the courtroom was filled with people from the 610 Office, police, and other government organs.
- Persecution Suffered Earlier by Ms. Wang Xiangju
- In March 2000, Ms. Wang Xiangju was arrested for practicing Falun Gong outdoors, by officers from the Xingdong Police Station. The police subsequently ransacked her home and detained her for one month. In August 2001, Ms. Wang Xiangju was again arrested by police from the Xingdong Police Station and detained there for five days.
- In August 2002, Ms. Wang Xiangju was distributing some Falun Gong materials when she was arrested by the Sidaoqiao police. The police later ransacked her home. On August 30, 2002, she was sent to a detention center. Not long afterward, Ms. Wang Xiangju was sentenced to a five-year jail term and sent to the No. 4 Group of the No. 7 Division of the Liaoning Women's Prison.
- In August 2007, Ms. Wang Xiangju was released after her term expired. Because she had refused to give up Falun Gong, she was often harassed by the street administration office and the police. Police agents followed her and tapped her phone. Her family has been harassed, as well.