(Minghui.org) An elderly male Falun Gong practitioner stood composed and neatly dressed in Penglai Court in Yantai City on August 13, 2014.

Mr. Chen Guangwei, 77, had been illegally arrested for allegedly “sabotaging law enforcement,” a charge often used in China to prosecute Falun Gong practitioners. He entered a not guilty plea and acted as his own defense counsel.

The judges hung their heads as the man explained why he practiced Falun Gong, how his chronic health problems had been cured, and that practitioners did not break any laws and were good people.

He told the judges how those responsible for the persecution would one day be held accountable for all their crimes. A judge interrupted, “Don't say the words 'Falun Gong.'” Just 20 minutes into the hearing, court was adjourned.

Mr. Chen's case is not an isolated one. In trials of Falun Gong practitioners in China, judges often caution practitioners, their relatives, and, if they have legal representation, their defense attorneys not to bring up two topics: Falun Gong and how the persecution is unconstitutional.

Ms. Zheng Hongxia approached court officials in the Qingpu District Court in Jiangsu Province in advance of her husband's trial in October 2009. She requested a copy of the indictment so she could prepare his defense. The court officials refused to provide the indictment or details of what her husband, Mr. Chen Shao, was charged with.

Presiding Judge Feng Jiandong threatened Ms. Zheng: “The entire staff from the 610 Office will be present on the day of the trial. You will not be permitted to talk about Falun Gong matters in the court."

Ms. Zheng was stopped at the gate of the courthouse the morning of the trial (October 20, 2009) by the same judge. He confiscated the notes she had prepared to represent her husband, snatching them from her hands.

During the trial, the same judge, Feng Jiandong, reminded Ms. Zheng that she was not permitted to talk about Falun Gong, because the entire staff from the 610 Office had come to observe the trial.

Ms. Zheng did not heed the judge's warning. She spoke about her husband's legal right to practice Falun Gong under China's constitution, which guarantees the right of "freedom of belief" for all citizens.

She told the court that Falun Gong is practiced and welcomed around the world, and she spoke about the Chinese Communist Party's organ harvesting from practitioners. The public security officers, staff from the 610 Office, and legal interns heard her defense. Neither the judge nor the prosecutors offered a rebuttal.

Attorneys hired to defend practitioners have also been warned not to mention Falun Gong in court.

Mr. Li Haijun and four other practitioners were on trial in the Wuling District Court in Hunan Province on June 11, 2010. Each time they or their attorney mentioned Falun Gong, a judge interrupted them.

Mr. Li told the court, “I am following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to become a better, selfless person. Is there anything wrong with that?” As he was speaking a female judge approached him and yanked at his handcuffs, attempting to silence him.

These practitioners were all arrested and persecuted for their belief, but once in court, they were not allowed to discuss their belief.

610 Office Head: “The Law Does Not Apply to Falun Gong Cases”

A defense attorney was preparing to represent several practitioners (Zhang Deyan, Sun Haifeng, Mu Guodong, Wang Yumei, and Wang Guihua) in Wanghua District Court in Fushun City, Liaoning Province, in July 2013.

The presiding judge warned the attorney before the trial, “Don't talk to me about the law.” The lawyer was a little shocked and replied, “If we don't talk about the law, should we tell jokes?”

This was not an isolated case. Too often judges in China are under pressure from the 610 Office.

Beihu District Court in Hunan Province held what was supposed to be a secret trial for practitioner Mr. Li Hui on July 23, 2004. A source working in law enforcement told one of Mr. Li's relatives about the trial, and several family members went in the courtroom. One of them asked the judge, “The constitution is the fundamental law and it allows for freedom of belief. Since everyone has to follow the law, isn't the persecution of Falun Gong unlawful?”

The judge told the relative, “We are not clear about Falun Gong issues, since we have only heard about it from the television and newspaper reports.”

The head of the city's 610 Office, Peng Guanhua, added, “Don't talk to me about the law here. The law does not apply to Falun Gong cases.”

Many officials maintain a similar attitude.

Mr. Liu, the deputy director of the Xichang City Political and Legal Affairs in Sichuan Province, told a defense attorney, “Stop asking me about the laws and don't expect us to follow them anyway.”

Mr. Ma, head of Nong'an County 610 Office in Jilin Province, told an attorney, “You can take my word for it—we follow politics, not laws. If you want to appeal, go ahead and do it!”

Feng Xiaolin, the presiding judge at the Qian'an City Court in Hebei Province, told the relatives of a practitioner, “The law does not apply to Falun Gong cases.”

Other conversations reveal just how deep the dishonesty goes.

A female practitioner, Ms. Qiu Liying, was being tried in Chang'an District Court of Shijiazhuang City on April 16, 2013.

Her defense attorney asked the vice president of the court, Wang Xue, “You won't get your hands dirty, will you?” Wang replied, “If I don't, how will I get paid?”

Wang had already told the attorney before the trial, “It doesn't matter how you defend the case—I can always make my judgment as needed.”