Qitaihe, Heilongjiang Province: 5 Tried for Their Faith in Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) Five Qitaihe residents were recently tried for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
The four women and one man were arrested around May 2016. Ms. Yu Guihua and Ms. Tan Fengjun were tried jointly on November 23 and 24 by the Qiezihe District Court. Ms. Zhao Chunyang, Ms. Zhang Guirong, and Mr. Gao Yunshan were tried separately over a three-day period in late November by the Taoshan District Court.
All five Falun Gong practitioners entered a not-guilty plea, and their lawyers defended their constitutional right to freedom of belief, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong.
2 Tried by Qiezihe District Court
Ms. Yu and Ms. Tan were deprived of their right to testify in their own defense when they appeared in court. Their lawyers were also barred from presenting their defense arguments during trial.
3 Tried by Taoshan District Court
Ms. Zhao was tried on November 28. When her lawyer, Mr. Wen, challenged the judges to specify which law she broke, the judges had no answer.
Ms. Zhang was tried on November 29. Her lawyer argued that the police had used marathon interrogation tactics to forcibly extract confessions from his client. Ms. Zhang had been questioned for more than 14 hours.
Four police officers who ransacked Ms. Zhang’s home appeared in court for cross examination. Ms. Zhang’s family discovered that 12,000 yuan in cash, a watch, a silver necklace, and a bank deposit book went missing after the police ransacked their home. The four items, however, were not recorded as confiscated items.
The police refused to answer when Ms. Zhang’s lawyer questioned them about the missing items.
The judge adjourned the hearing when Ms. Zhang and her lawyer requested recusal of the two prosecutors who refused to address the lawyer’s complaints against the police’s violation of legal procedures during their arrest, interrogation, and home search process.
Ms. Zhang’s daughter refused to comply when the judge asked her to persuade her mother to drop the recusal request.
Mr. Gao was tried on November 30, and his lawyer also defended his innocence.