(Minghui.org) Three Wuhan City residents were sentenced to prison for their faith after two hearings riddled with legal procedure violations by the judicial system.
Mr. Deng Qingcai was given 5 years, his wife Ms. Zhu Yulan 4 years, and Ms. Cao Xiaomei 3.5 years. The couple has filed an appeal and their lawyer is requesting the higher court to hold an open hearing.
The three Wuhan locals were arrested on October 21, 2015 for telling people about the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
Mr. Deng remains at the Huangpi District Detention Center, and the two women at Wuhan City First Detention Center.
The first hearing was held on July 18, 2016. While only two family members of each practitioner were allowed to attend the hearing, the local 610 Office, an extra-legal agency tasked with eradicating Falun Gong and given power to override the judicial system, demanded the court save seven seats for them in the gallery.
The lawyers argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and their clients’ act of exposing the persecution caused no harm to anyone. They demanded acquittal.
As the prosecutor was unable to specify which law the defendants had allegedly broken, the judge proceeded to announce an adjournment of the session.
Upon the lawyers’ protest, the judge agreed to have a brief recess and resume the session in the afternoon.
During the recess, the lawyers noticed that the court records didn’t reflect everything that transpired in the courtroom. They immediately raised their concerns to the judge.
The clerk in charge of taking minutes responded, “I quit!”
The prosecutor also left right after the clerk, without consulting with the judge.
The judge turned to call his supervisor, who instructed him to hold another hearing.
During the second hearing on July 28, the court no longer imposed a limit on the number of family members allowed in the courtroom. There were, however, many more bailiffs and police officers. The court also blocked cellphone reception in the courtroom.
The lawyers pointed out red flags that they spotted in the police interrogation record, which included inconsistent information regarding when the three practitioners were arrested and interrogated.
The judge responded by threatening to toss the lawyers out if they kept questioning the prosecution evidence.
The lawyers then saw a police officer handing a paper slip to the prosecutor. They protested such behavior, but the prosecutor claimed that the officer was also a prosecutor in the case. The indictment, however, only listed one prosecutor.
The lawyers argued that the police, the procuratorate, and the court were the ones that were undermining law enforcement. They reiterated that their clients should never have been prosecuted for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief and freedom of the press.
The court announced its guilty verdict against the practitioners on August 22.