Sichuan Couple Sentenced to 7 Years for Practicing Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Zhao Banghai and his wife Ms. Li Changqiu were illegally arrested in July 2014 and had been detained since. They were recently sentenced to seven years in prison on July 21, 2015.
The trial was held in the Longquanyi District Court in Chengdu, during which a large number of police officers stood outside the courthouse.
The couple's lawyers pleaded not guilty on their behalf, stated that practicing Falun Gong is legal according to Chinese law. The judge and the prosecutor interrupted them many times during their presentation.
Only four seats inside the courtroom were reserved for the defendants' family, while the others were taken by “attendants” hired by the court.
Arrested and Family Harassed
Mr. Zhao and Ms. Li were arrested on July 9, 2014. Police ransacked their home and confiscated their computers and other personal belongings.
Officers reportedly tortured both husband and wife in interrogation to extract confessions.
After the couple's arrest, their family members–a mother in her 80s, a handicapped younger sister, and their 15-year-old daughter–faced harassment. Their landlord and local residential officers tried to evict them many times. They also monitored Mr. Zhao's mother when she leaves the house.
He Yong, a residential security officer, was heard saying, “Longquanyi District will not tolerate seeing Falun Gong practitioners.”