Six Heilongjiang Residents Tried for Their Faith Amidst Legal Procedure Violations
(Minghui.org) Six Shuangyashan City residents were tried on October 18 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
Ms. Zhang Liyan, Ms. Wang Yuzhi, Ms. Guo Hongxia, Ms. Shan Jinli and her son Mr. Wang Dongsheng have remained captive since their arrest in October 2014. Mr. Zu Wanhai, who was arrested around the same time, was later released on medical parole, but summoned back to face trial.
The six Falun Gong practitioners were charged with using a cult to undermine law enforcement, a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
A total of seven lawyers represented the six Falun Gong practitioners. The lawyers argued that the People’s Congress, China’s lawmaking body, has never enacted any law banning Falun Gong; hence, their clients should never have been prosecuted by exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief.
The lawyers also protested against the legal procedure violations committed by the police and the court both before and during the hearing.
Before the hearing
The police conducted a marathon interrogation of Mr. Wang, who became mentally disoriented after being questioned for 14 straight hours. The prosecutors then used confessions extracted under duress as evidence against him.
The six practitioners’ case sat with the court for 17 months, during which time judge Gao Zhixin returned it to police three times, citing insufficient evidence. By law, the defendant must be released if the police still fail to gather enough evidence after the case has been returned to them twice.
Five of the seven lawyers were from out of town. Three times they were denied access to their clients’ case documents after having traveled hundreds of miles to Shuangyashan.
When judge Gao finally allowed the lawyers to review the case, he didn’t give them enough time to prepare their defense arguments. By law, a hearing cannot be held until at least ten days after the lawyers review the cases. Gao, however, proceeded to hold the hearing only seven days after the lawyers got access to the case files.
The courthouse was heavily guarded, with many police vehicles parked outside. Only a total of 13 family members of the six practitioners were allowed inside the gallery. More than 40 other supporters had to wait outside during the hearing.
Judge Gao demanded the lawyers go through security check and leave behind their briefcases and laptops. He relented after the lawyers produced legal documents stating that they were exempt from security checks and free to use their own laptops in court.
During the recess, one prosecutor questioned if the lawyers were working under the orders of some sort of Falun Gong organization and if they were paid.
One lawyer, who had handled Falun Gong cases before, replied, “I have nothing to do with Falun Gong as I don’t practice it. I am simply doing my job representing a client who wants me to defend her. My law firm’s contact information is listed online and you may call any time to verify my employment. I feel for these practitioners because they are being unjustly punished for simply trying to be a good person.”
He and his fellow lawyers demanded acquittal of their clients. Judge Gao adjourned the session without issuing a verdict.
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