Qitaihe Court: Orders from "Above" Mandate Heavy Sentences for Those Who Hire a Defense Attorney
(Clearwisdom.net) On April 1 and 2, 2010, Xinxing District Court in Qitaihe City, Heilongjiang Province, illegally tried six Falun Gong practitioners, including Ms. Li Xinchun. At the trial, the defense attorney showed that the evidence presented was entirely fabricated and that the "criminal facts" in the indictment contained only interrogation records and lacked any relevant information. The contradictory records were full of holes. The defendant's attorney repeatedly asked the prosecutor to provide evidence and witnesses, but the prosecutor was not able to.
At 3 p.m. on April 30, Xinxing District Court officials went to the detention center to announce the sentences in secret. Ms. Guan Shuxue and Ms. Liu Fangrong went home that same day. Ms. Li Xinchun, Mr. Jiang Botao, and Mr. Guo Qizhong are still being held in the Qitaihe Detention Center.
On May 6, the families of the detained practitioners went to the Xinxing District Court to see the head of the court. The judge and other officials involved avoided them. The officials at the court said that orders from "above" mandated that any Falun Gong practitioners who hired lawyers be given heavy sentences.
On the afternoon of September 22, 2009, practitioners Ms. Zhang Xiulian and her sister (who sell computer products), Ms. Li Xinchun, Mr. Jiang Botao, Mr. Guo Qizhong, Ms. Guan Shuxue, Ms. Li Fengbo, and Ms. Liu Fangrong were arrested by Bi Shuqing, the director of the 610 Office, who ganged up with over ten police officers. The practitioners' homes were ransacked and a lot of their personal property was taken away. Ms. Zhang and her sister, as well as Ms. Li Fengbo, (who is in the late stages of lung cancer due to the persecution) have since been released.
The families of two of the detained practitioners appealed to the Qitaihe City Political Judiciary Committee, the city government, the police station, the court officials, etc., hoping to get justice. However, they been pushed out, treated rudely, and even threatened. There have not made any progress.
The wife of Mr. Jiang Botao hired an attorney who insisted on seeking justice and defending Mr. Jiang. On November 23, when the attorney went to the police department to visit his client according to legal procedures, he was stopped. When Jiang Botao's mother asked Bi Shuqing, the director of the 610 Office, to see her son, Bi Shuqing and others threatened her and forced her to write a pledge not to hire an attorney. Originally, the XinXing District Court in Qitaihe City planned to try the five practitioners on February 2, 2010. The detained practitioners asked the lawyer to enter "not guilty" pleas on their behalf. When the attorney was ready to go to trial, the court notified them that the trial had been temporarily postponed.
Attorneys Enter "Not Guilty" Pleas
On April 1 and 2, 2010, the Xinxing District Court in Qitaihe City started proceedings against Ms. Li Xinchun, Mr. Jiang Botao, and Mr. Guo Qizhong. The two lawyers defending the practitioners pleaded "not guilty." The lawyers showed that the evidence provided by the police was fabricated, that the practitioners didn't break any of China's laws, and that freedom of belief is protected by the Constitution. They requested that the detained practitioners be released immediately. The prosecutor and the judge ran out of things to say while everyone present listened quietly to the defense.
One defense attorney said, "The defendant believes that Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is a refined and condensed understanding of China's five-thousand-year-old culture. Except for political fights between politicians, no country in this world would argue against telling the truth, being kindhearted, and being tolerant. According to what he knows, after the defendant started practicing Falun Dafa, he worked harder, treated others with sincerity, was loyal to his family, respected and took care of his elders, refused to take bribes, and refused gifts that came from the parents of his students He also supported poor students with his own money. Only a few people like Jiang Botao can really do things like that, and the reason he can is because he has his own beliefs. Relatively speaking, public security in the northeast is not very good, and there are many cases of people fighting while drunk. None of the people who believe as Mr. Jiang does exhibit this kind of behavior. If this belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-and Forbearance can change a person and make him or her good, how can you say this is an evil cult?"
Ms. Li Xinchun and Mr. Jiang Botao said that they cultivated according to Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, they worked hard to be good, and they didn't break the law. When Mr. Jiang disclosed how the police interrogated him using torture, one policeman shouted, "Jiang Botao, watch out!"
A little past 3 p.m. on April 30, 2010, Xinxing District officials secretly went to the detention center to announce the sentences. Ms. Guan Shuxue and Ms. Liu Fangrong went home the same day, while Ms. Li Xinchun, Mr. Jiang Botao, and Mr. Guo Qizhong are still in Qitaihe Detention Center.
On May 6, the families of the Falun Gong practitioners checked in with Xinxing District Court. The director of the court, the judge, and the personnel in charge avoided them. The officials in the same office as Yang Zhenggang said that the practitioners' sentences had already been determined and that the Falun Gong practitioners had appealed and their cases had gone to the Intermediate Court. When the families checked in with the Intermediate Court, they were told that the cases in question hadn't been received yet. On May 7, when they again checked in with the Xinxing Court, Yang Zhenggang said they didn't have the appeal files from Mr. Jiang Botao yet. Currently, Ms. Li Xinchun and Mr. Guo Qizhong's situations are not clear. Their families and lawyers of the detained practitioners still do not know the final sentences.
Xinxing District Court officials said, "Orders from above mandate heavy sentences for those who hire an attorney, because they fall into the category of 'top petitioners.' 'Top petitioners' hire a lawyer and plead not guilty."
On June 3 the families again went to the intermediate court and found the person in charge, Tang Wenguang. When they asked about the progress of the case, Tang said, "What I say does not count. You all go home and wait." He pointed to the letters (truth-clarifying letters) on the desk and said, "Look at these letters." The family member asked whether he had read the case. Tang said, "You are not the prosecutor, and what right do you have to talk to me like that? Today, if we were on the streets, I'd kick you." The families said, "Didn't the lawyer plead not guilty?" Tang said, "Ask the lawyer to talk to me. You can let him try!" When they asked for Tang's contact phone and who else they should go to, Tang said nothing.
Officials and departments involved in this case:
Bi Shuqing: 6-13946550880 (Cell), 86-13314640880 (Cell) 86-464-8281932 (Home) 86-464-8284932 (Home) 86-464-8297021 (Office)
Chen Ju, Team Leader of the National Security Branch Team of the Police Station: 86-13089556565 (Cell) 86-464-8267007 (Home) (In charge of ransacking Ms. Li Xinchun's home)
The Intermediate Court of Qitaihe City
Guan Changrenm director of Court: 86-13304671800 (Cell) 86-464-8668777 (Home)
Wang Qisheng, associate director: 86-13904670985 (Cell) 86-464-8684099 (Office) 86-464-8276598 (Home)
Qitaihe City Procuratorate
Prosecutor Gao Weili: 86-13304670058(Cell) 86-464-8263005 (Office)
Article relating to the original arrests of these practitioners: http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/2/3/114396.html