Chengdu Elementary School Teacher's Prison Term Upheld in Secret Trial—Defense Lawyer Files Complaint
(Minghui.org) Ms. Yan Hongmei, an art teacher at Tianhui No. 2 Experimental Elementary School, presented the facts about Falun Gong and played the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party video in her classroom. Ms. Yan was detained and then sentenced to a four-year prison term. After she appealed, the four-year prison term was upheld by the Chengdu Intermediate Court in a secret trial. Her lawyer was denied access to any information about the appeal trial, and denied the right to review her case. The lawyer has filed a complaint and demanded the release of the transcripts of interrogation of her students by Domestic Security Division officers in their prosecution of Ms. Yan.
Two unidentified persons, accompanied by the school principal, showed up at Ms. Yan's in early August 2014, during the summer vacation. They came to talk to her after receiving reports from parents of students in her class that she played the Nine Commentaries... video in class.
Officers from the Tianhui Town Police Station and members of a special task force on her case arrested her at home on August 4, 2014. They confiscated some Falun Gong informational materials and Shen Yun DVDs. Ms. Yan was detained in the Pi County Detention Center.
Ms. Yan was placed on trial by the Jinniu District Court on March 7, 2015. A female judge named Wangping sentenced her on March 11 to four years in prison. Ms. Yan contested the sentencing and filed an appeal on March 14.
The lawyer representing her in the appeal went to the Chengdu Intermediate Court and requested her case files for review. The attorney was told that there was no such case. Knowing that the Jinniu District Court trial judge had transferred the case to the Intermediate Court, the lawyer inquired about the case a couple more times. However, the Intermediate Court consistently denied the existence of this case. The attorney's numerous phone calls were either not answered, or he was told no such case was found. The last time the lawyer inquired, the court staff said they would check again about the case. However, they never got back to the lawyer.
The lawyer eventually learned from Ms. Yan's father that the second trial had been conducted in secret, and the original verdict was upheld.
It was reported that in order to build up the case, the Jinniu District Domestic Security Division called in Ms. Yan's students, who were only seven or eight years old. They were questioned one by one, and forced to testify against their favorite teacher.
According to the law, minors cannot serve as witnesses or provide testimony. Under the rare circumstances that this has to be done, the minors must be accompanied by their guardians. Conducting such an inquiry, one by one by police, may have resulted in irreparable psychological damage to the children.
Ms. Yan's students all liked her, and got along with her very well at school. When they were forced, one by one, by the Domestic Security Division officers to identify their teacher for charges to be brought against her, the children passively answered questions, participated in note taking, and signed and fingerprinted the transcripts. The kids were not fully aware of what they were doing. When one day they find out that their beloved teacher was put in prison because of their testimony, they will likely be deeply sorrowful for the rest of their lives.
It is now clear that the intermediate court told the lawyer that there was no such case in order to deny the lawyer the opportunity to review the case, to buy time for the secret trial to conclude, and to strip the lawyer of the right to practice law.
The lawyer has filed a complaint, stating, “The Chengdu Intermediate Court, by hiding the existence of this case in their computer system, and by refusing to provide contact information for the judge assigned to the case or the status of the case, despite all my efforts to inquire over the phone, over the Internet, and through filing public complaints, has prevented the lawyer from delivering proper paper work, from reviewing case files, and from defending the client, which amounts to preventing the lawyer from carrying out his duty.”
The lawyer, in his complaint through the Bar Association of Chengdu, also demanded the release of transcripts of police interrogations of the school children.