Court Threatens Family for Hiring Defense Lawyer
(Minghui.org) On July 2, 2013, the Guangan City Intermediate People's Court of Sichuan brought Mr. Zou Yunzhu to a public trial. Mr. Zou, who practices Falun Gong, was being tried for giving people informational materials about Falun Gong. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea and showed how practicing Falun Gong is neither illegal nor criminal, and requested Mr. Zou's immediate release. The court, however, was hastily adjourned, and Mr. Zou's family was harassed and threatened by the authorities for the simple reason that they hired the attorney.
Arrested for Upholding Belief
Mr. Zou Yunzhu was a former cancer patient, but after practicing Falun Dafa, he recovered completely. He is deeply grateful to Dafa, and, in order to benefit more people, he wished to help others learn about this tremendous practice. He established an informational materials production center, downloaded articles and brochures about Falun Gong and printed them out to give to people in order to dispel the lies and slander about Falun Gong perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On October 31, 2012, Mr. Zou was arrested by staff from the Guangan 610 Office and policemen from Huaying City, who also raided his home. Without notifying his family, the Huaying City Court sentenced him to three and half years in prison. Mr. Zou Yunzhu appealed, and his family hired a lawyer to defend him.
Freedom of Belief Is Protected by the Chinese Constitution
On July 2, 2013, Mr. Zou's trial was held in the Guangan City Intermediate People's Court. His lawyer stated that according to Article No. 36 of the Chinese Constitution, Chinese citizens are granted the right to freedom of belief, and also the right to propagate their belief; even if Mr. Zou did produce reading materials and DVDs about Falun Gong, he had not broken any laws. The lawyer pointed out that Zou's actions are protected by the constitution and the law, and he should be released immediately.
His lawyer emphasized several times that Falun Gong is not an illegal organization nor a cult. He stated that there is absolutely no legal basis to claim that Falun Gong is such, and there is no recognition by the Chinese government of such a definition of Falun Gong. The attorney further stated that it is completely illegal for the Ministry of Public Security and the court prosecutor to procecute Mr. Zou.
Law Enforcement Officials Violated the Law
The lawyer also pointed out that numerous actions by Guangan, and Huaying Public security personnel were in violation of the law: they did not have a search warrant, nor were Mr. Zou or any of his family at home when they broke into his residence and took his personal property. Also, the testimonies claimed as evidence had no signatures, and the cash they took from his daughter-in-law's room, which totaled over 17,000 yuan, was the income from her job, not evidence of a crime. (The lawyer requested the immediate return of the 17,000 yuan.)
During the court hearing, Mr. Zou's daughter-in-law asked to speak as a witness numerous times but was always turned down by the judge.
Regarding the core issue of whether Falun Gong is illegal or not, the judge would not allow the lawyer to speak. When the lawyer raised the issue again, the judge interrupted him and told him not to say “anything irrelevant to the case.” Later, they would not allow the lawyer to defend Mr. Zou anymore. When the lawyer asked that his client be released immediately, the judge would not respond, and the court was quickly adjourned.
On July 18, staff from the Guangan Intermediate People's Court, the Huaying Court and the Guangan 610 Office and several policemen went to Mr. Zou Yunzhu's home and threatened his family members: “Who hired the lawyers and why did so many people know about the open trial? Who invited those who came to the court hearing?” They told the family that the court would reconvene, and that Mr. Zou would received a heavy sentence.
After Mr. Zou's friends and relatives heard this, they were outraged: Is it committing a crime to hire a lawyer? Is is committing crime to invite people to attend an open trial? Are you afraid people will know the truth, do you have something to hide? Threatening the family and wanting to retaliate, is that the proper behavior of police? Where is the fairness and justice of the law?