Lower Court Presses Ahead with Retrial of Man in Dire Condition
(Minghui.org) When Mr. Song Zhenhai was carried into the courtroom on January 31, he was handcuffed and shackled, with a feeding tube still in his nostril. He couldn't sit up on his own, and kept coughing, vomiting and complaining about stomach pain.
Still, the judge at Linzhang County Court pressed ahead with the January session, one and a half months after Handan City Intermediate Court overturned its 3-year sentence for Mr. Song and ordered a retrial.
Mr. Song was arrested in May 2014 for distributing literature exposing the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party. His lawyer argued that the Constitution guarantees the citizens' right to freedom of belief and freedom of expression, so his client's practice of Falun Gong and dissemination of information about the practice broke no law.
The lawyer also objected to the judge's use of a CCP “internal notice” as the legal basis for prosecuting his client. He pointed out that a “notice” defaming Falun Gong is in itself illegal, as no law in China has ever criminalized Falun Gong.
Regardless, the lower court handed down a prison sentence to Mr. Song at his first trial on October 15, 2014. After the higher court threw out its verdict, the lower court was eager to re-convict Mr. Song and held the retrial despite Mr. Song's worrisome physical condition.
Mr. Song had been on a hunger strike and savagely force-fed for a month prior to the retrial. He looked pale and emaciated on the trial date. When the presiding judge Chen Jianxin began his questioning, Mr. Song wasn't able to say a word, as he couldn't stop coughing and vomiting.
Mr. Song's lawyer eventually had to stop the judge and ask him to adjourn the session. The judge reluctantly obliged, but immediately announced a new trial date of February 4. Mr. Song's lawyer doubts that his client will be fit to stand trial by then.
Mr. Song's Family Broken Apart
Mr. Song and his wife were repeatedly arrested after the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999. Following Mr. Song's latest arrest, his wife has spent a great deal of time and money trying to rescue him, but to no avail.
The couple's 13-year-old daughter was home alone most of the time without her parents' care. She eventually quit school and her whereabouts are unknown at this point.
Mr. Song's grandmother was in a constant state of fear and anxiety seeing her grandson arrested all the time. She passed away not too long after learning of his three-year-sentence.