(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Zhu Yanbo was secretly sentenced to three years in prison on April 30, 2014 after being detained for almost five months. Her attorney argues that the ruling violates Ms. Zhu's constitutional freedom of religious belief and misuses an anti-cult law to persecute practitioners of Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhu, 49, lives in Donggang, Liaoning Province. On December 24, 2013, over ten police officers broke into her home and arrested her and her husband, who does not practice Falun Gong. Her husband was released that night, but Ms. Zhu was taken to Dandong Detention Center.
Ms. Zhu's husband hired a defense attorney from Beijing, Mr. Li Chunfu. After visiting her at Dandong Detention Center, Mr. Li found out that Ms. Zhu's blood pressure shot up after being arrested, and police forcibly medicated her daily.
Three times in January, Ms. Zhu's husband went to Gushan Police Department and the Donggang Procuratorate to seek her release. However, police officers and the Procuratorate official in charge of the case, Qu Hongling, refused to see him.
Donggang City Court tried Ms. Zhu on April 22. Her attorney entered a not-guilty plea, citing unclear facts and insufficient evidence, which revolved around an online diary Ms. Zhu shared on QQ, an instant messaging and social media platform popular in China. Her attorney argued that the shared diary qualified for protection under freedom of speech.
Furthermore, the social media content in question was not declared as an illegal publication by the Administration of Press and Publication, a government agency responsible for censoring print and electronic publications in China.
Ms. Zhu's attorney pointed out that the agency's own regulations state that it must declare all illegal publications as such, so it would not be legal to use the content as incriminating evidence.
He also argued that legal procedure was violated by a conflict of interest, as the “investigation and evidence inspection were done by the same group,” referring to the case being handled by the Dagushan Economic Zone Police Department under the direction of Dandong Police Domestic Security Division, its brother organization.
Finally, Ms. Zhu's attorney pointed out, “Falun Gong is not among the 14 cult organizations specified by the Ministry of Public Security. Therefore, there is no legal ground to claim that Ms. Zhu committed a crime. Doing so would violate the Constitutionally-provided freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”
“Ms. Zhu Yanbo practices Falun Gong and lives by the principles of 'Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.' She has obtained good physical and mental health. Doing this does not violate any national law,” the attorney testified.
The court adjourned the one-hour session without reaching a verdict. However, on April 30, it secretly sentenced Ms. Zhu to three years in prison for “using superstitious sects [cults] to undermine the implementation of the law.”
Ms. Zhu has filed an appeal to Dandong Intermediate Court.