(Minghui.org) Mr. Chen Deguang and his wife Ms. Sheng Chunmei, Falun Gong practitioners from Haishiwan Town in the Honggu District of Lanzhou City, were arrested two years ago for distributing Shen Yun DVDs. The Honggu District Court in Lanzhou City attempted to try them on March 22, without allowing them the benefit of an attorney.

The Honggu District Court contacted the Lanzhou Intermediate Court on two occasions and proposed charging and sentencing the couple with the crime of “undermining the state.” The court's proposal was rejected, but the couple were still detained, because Honggu Court officials planned to charge them with other “crimes.”

The court officials waited until the day before the trial to notify Mr. Chen’s attorney, so he did not have sufficient travel time to attend the trial. Although Mr. Chen’s children requested that their parents' right to an attorney be upheld, the court turned them down. Mr. Chen’s family told court officials that if the trial were held without the attorney present, they would go to Beijing and sue the Honggu District Court. Court officials told Mr. Chen’s family to exclude the attorney from the case, but the family refused. The attorney then received notice on April 12 that the trial would be held on April 20.

Background information

Mr. Chen Deguang, born in 1946, was employed at the Northwest Division of No. 4 Metallurgical Construction Company and lives on Datong Road in Haishiwan Town in the Honggu District. Prior to practicing Falun Gong, he suffered from back muscle strain, cervical bone hyperplasia, gastroptosis, and other ailments. He also smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and drank heavily. On August 16, 1997, Mr. Chen watched the video of Mr. Li Hongzhi (the founder of Falun Gong) teaching in Dalian City and decided to learn the practice. Afterward, all of his illnesses disappeared and he quit smoking and drinking.

After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the persecution in July 1999, Mr. Chen was mistreated many times. He was sent to a forced labor camp. As a result of being beaten, his ribs were broken. Because his family was constantly harassed by the authorities, it impossible for them to lead a normal life.

On July 6, 2011, Mr. Chen and his wife Ms. Sheng Chunmei were illegally arrested as they distributed Shen Yun Performing Arts DVDs in Huazhuang Town in the Honggu District of Lanzhou. They were taken to the Honggu Police Station, where officer Zhang Guowei interrogated Mr. Chen using torture. He was kept at the Honggu Detention Center in Haishiwan and then sent to the Lanzhou Second Detention Center in November 2011. Ms. Sheng was released on medical parole because of her poor health.

A year later, officials attempted to deceive Ms. Sheng to get her to go to the police department, claiming they needed a signature. After this failed, they found her by tracking her cell phone. Without showing any ID or other documents, agents climbed in through a window and arrested her. She was taken to the Lanzhou First Detention Center.

Case returned twice due to insufficient evidence

The couple's case was submitted to the Lanzhou Procuratorate for review in mid-October 2011, but it was returned twice for additional “evidence.” Mr. Chen received a document stating the charges against him in late May 2012 with notification of a trial date of June 12, 2012. After his attorney arrived, however, they received a phone call from the judge telling them that the trial had been rescheduled due to the intervention of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee.

Mr. Chen’s family received a phone call from their attorney in late September saying that the Procuratorate had withdrawn the case. When they contacted the court and Procuratorate to confirm this, Procuratorial officer Shi Xinglin said, “Nobody said the case would be dismissed.”

The attorney notified the family in late January 2013 with news that the case would be transferred from the Lanzhou Intermediate Court to the Honggu District Court. Mr. Chen’s family then contacted the Honggu District Court and told judge Zhang Xuelin that Mr. Chen and his wife had hired an attorney. Zhang told them to work with the attorney to submit the necessary paperwork to the court.

After the attorney submitted the paperwork, they met Ms. Sheng in the detention center. Due to stress and poor conditions in detention, her illnesses prior to practicing of Falun Gong had recurred, including high blood pressure (sometimes as high as 180), diabetes, poor eyesight, and hearing loss. Her attorney recommended medical parole for Ms. Sheng, but the judge denied the request.

Court attempts to hold trial without attorney

It was not until the afternoon of March 20, 2013, that Mr. Chen’s family heard that a trial would be held at the Honggu District Court on March 22. Prior to this, they had not received notice from the court or the attorney, although, according to law, the court is required to notify the attorney three days in advance of any court date.

After contacting the attorney, the family learned that they had also been notified by phone on March 20, however the written notice was not delivered until the morning of March 21. Because the notice was given out late, the attorney could not make it to the trial, so the family and the attorney asked for the trial to be rescheduled to March 25, but the judge refused. The family told the judge that they would sue the court officials if the trial was held without the couple's attorney present.

Mr. Chen’s family arrived at the court at 9 a.m. on March 22, one hour before the trial was set to begin, to discuss their concerns with the court officials. Because one of the attorneys was not available to immediately write a request to postpone the trial, judge Zhang Xuelin told them to exclude the attorney from the case and also refused their request. After discussing the matter from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., the court officials finally announced that the trial would be rescheduled.

Zhang Xuelin, judge, Haishiwan Court, Honggu District: +86-13609381509, +86-931-6229874

Related articles:

“Mr. Chen Deguan from Lanzhou Detained for Over a Year; His Wife Arrested Again” http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2012/10/20/135969.html 

“Mr. Chen Deguang and Ms. Sheng Chunmei and Their Daughter and Son Repeatedly Harassed, Arrested, and Sentenced Since 1999” http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2012/7/12/134400.html 

“Falun Gong Practitioner Mr. Chen Deguang Files Complaint Against Police for Interrogation by Torture (Photo)” http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2012/3/11/132019.html