(Minghui.org) The Wusu City Court in Xinjiang tried three Falun Gong practitioners for the third time in November, on a day when one of their attorneys was known to have a scheduling conflict. The other three lawyers boycotted the trial to show their solidarity and to protest the judge's refusal to change the trial date.

The practitioners' efforts to defend themselves without their lawyers' presence met with obstacles. Before 37-year-old Ms. Ma Chengying (马成英) had a chance to speak, several bailiffs pushed her to the ground and snatched her prepared statement.

Just a few months earlier, the date of the practitioners' first trial was changed a total of four times before being locked in for June 28. However, the judge kept the families in the dark until the day before the trial, making it virtually impossible for their Beijing lawyers to rush 2,000 miles to Xinjiang to attend the trial.

Their families' request to delay the trial was turned down, and all three practitioners were handed prison sentences shortly after the June trial. Ms. Ma was sentenced to six-and-a-half years; her new husband, Mr. Yang Wanjun (杨万军), to five years; and Mr. Zhang Chengjun (张成军) to three-and-a-half years.

The intermediate court reversed the lower court's verdict and ordered a retrial after Ms. Ma's attorney filed a complaint against the lower court for preventing the lawyers from defending the practitioners by frequently changing trial dates with short notice.

The retrial took place on November 25, but the judge adjourned the hearing when Ms. Ma's attorney objected to the presence of public prosecutor Zhao Hua. This January, Zhao visited Ms. Ma at the detention center and threatened her to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.

The chief prosecutor, however, refused to have Zhao removed. Ms. Ma's lawyer insisted on a reconsideration of suitable prosecutors, and the presiding judge compromised by scheduling another hearing on November 28.

Ms. Ma's attorney immediately told the judge that he had to appear at another trial on the same day. The judge refused to budge and ordered a clerk to distribute trial notifications to all four attorneys in the case, saying, “We've already notified you of the new trial date. It is your choice whether to come or not.”

None of the four attorneys signed the trial date notification. The next day, three of them wrote a complaint letter and reported the violation to the court president, the court secretary, the Bureau of Justice, and the complaint center of the Supreme Court.

Tortured in Detention Center

Ms. Ma was tortured in the detention center after her arrest on October 9, 2013.

On October 11, officers struck her back and neck multiple times with batons and restrained her in a metal chair because she refused to wear a detainee uniform. She firmly believed that she should not be regarded as a prisoner because she was detained for her beliefs, not because she committed any crime.

On November 5, 2013, she was interrogated at 4 a.m. in an underground cell. She was cuffed to a metal chair. A police officer slapped her until she was dizzy and forced her to sign a confession.

In March 2014, she was cuffed to a metal chair for 12 hours per day for about five days. In mid-June 2014, the police hit her in the head with a big ring of keys because she refused to wear the detainee uniform. Her head started bleeding, but she was never given any medical treatment. Instead, they cuffed her to a metal chair for 12 hours and starved her for two days.

Perpetrators' Contact Information:Yu Ping (于平), presiding judge of the case: +86-992-8538090, +86-13289926888 (Cell), +86-18699225777 (Cell)