(Clearwisdom.net) Zhenxing District Court in Dandong City, Liaoning Province illegally tried practitioners Ms. Shao Changfen and Shao Changhua on December 24, 2010. During their defense of the practitioners, two Beijing lawyers pointed out that practicing Falun Gong is exercising their freedom of belief. Freedom of belief is a basic human right. The court could not dispute the lawyers' justifiable defense. The judge announced a recess until further notice. Ten days later, the court sentenced Shao Changfen and Shao Changhua to seven years and four years of prison, respectively, without holding another open hearing.

Sisters Shao Changfen and Shao Changhua rode their motorbike to visit their relatives in Tangchi village on September 6, 2010. As they prepared to leave their relative's home, village head Wang Baochen blocked the doorway and refused to let them leave. He called the local police station and asked police officers to arrest the sisters. Their homes were ransacked at the same time. Around 10:00 p.m. that night, both of them were locked up in the Dandong Police Station. Six days later they were transferred to Dandong Detention Center.

Zhenxing Procuratorate Actively Impedes Victim's Family and Lawyers

On October 14, 2010, agents from the Zhenxing District Police Department and from the Tangchi Police Station transferred the case against the sisters to the Zhenxing Procuratorate. Their family hired Beijing lawyers Lan Zhixue and Zhang Chuanli to defend the sisters. The Procuratorate impeded the lawyers at every turn as they investigated their clients' case.

On November 16, 2010, the two lawyers wanted to inspect case documents. Officials from the Procuratorate stopped them from entering the building, claiming that high-ranking officials were carrying out inspections and told them to come back the next day. When the lawyers returned the following day, they were told that the officials in charge were not in, and it was unclear when they would be back. On November 23, the lawyers made another trip from Beijing to the Zhenxing Procuratorate to inspect documents. They were informed that the documents were sent back to police officer Gao Junhui of Tangchi Police Station. The practitioners' family members made several visits to the police station to see Gao Junhui, but were not allowed to meet with him.

On the morning of December 16, the family members went to the Zhenxing Police Department again. They were told that the case was transferred back to the Zhenxing Procuratorate. When they went to the Procuratorate to pursue the matter, they learned that the practitioners had already been tried. Around December 19, family members received two phone calls from the court, informing them that the sisters were going to be tried in court on December 23, but the court refused to give them the exact time of the trial.

On December 22, the lawyers rushed to Dandong City. Upon arriving at the court in the afternoon, they were told that the trial was postponed to December 24.

Lawyers' Argue on the Practitioners' Behalf

In court, the two lawyers exposed the illegal actions of the Procuratorate and pointed out that according to regulations, public security organs can only decide whether to send the accused to detention, forced labor or imprisonment. However, the Zhenxing Police Department first detained the two sisters for 15 days. Six days later, they changed the sentence to one and a half years of forced labor, and then two days later, the sentence was changed to imprisonment. In a 10-day period, the officials pronounced three different judgments on the same person. It was a prime example of the police making a mockery of the judicial process and doing as they pleased.

The lawyers also pointed out that the local government's Forced Labor Committee decides whether the accused should be subjected to forced labor. Tangchi Police Station officials had no authority to decide whether the accused should be subjected to forced labor.

The lawyers further said that Falun Gong is a practice to improve one's physical health and morals. Sharing the benefits that one experiences in the practice is harmless, and in fact, it is beneficial to promoting social stability. According to the Constitution, citizens have the right to freedom of belief and speech. These are fundamental human rights and should be protected by law. There is nothing illegal about the sisters' actions.

The lawyers said that the entire judicial procedure was illegal, and demanded that the two practitioners be unconditionally released.

The judge and prosecutor could not refute the defense. In the end the presiding judge, Tao Zhenhua, announced a court recess until further notice.

Family members of the sisters kept waiting for the court to inform them of the date when the court session would resume. However, 10 days later, they were notified that Ms. Shao Changhua and Shao Changfen were sentenced to seven years and four years of prison, respectively.