(Minghui.org) Twelve Falun Gong practitioners were illegally tried by the Songbei District Court in Harbin on September 22, 2017.

The practitioners are Shi Xiangyun, Jia Yanling, Bao Yi, Wei Xuwang, Kong Qingyan, Zhu Fengying, Zhao Xiru, Liu Jun, Ren Xiuying, Yang Qiji, Wu Xi, and Zhang Shuxia.

They were arrested between January 18 and 19, 2017. Although Ms. Ren was released on the same day of her arrest, she was arrested again on July 13.

Courtroom Procedures

The trial started at 9 a.m. The court mobilized special police forces to patrol around the courthouse, blocked off the parking lot in front of the courthouse, and set up cordons. Many relatives and friends of the practitioners were stopped before reaching the courthouse.

The court limited the number of attendees, allowing only one person from each family inside.

Each practitioner's head was covered with a black hood, and they were handcuffed when they were brought into the courtroom. No one knew what crime they were prosecuted for.

The procurator charged the practitioners, but did not allow the defendants to defend themselves.

Four practitioners hired attorneys, while one practitioner was defended by a family member.

Brief Summary of Attorneys' Arguments

1. The officers arrested the defendants without showing a warrant or summons. They also failed to explain the reason for the arrests to the defendants.

2. Some of the evidence was verified by the Identification Center within the Harbin Police Department. This violates existing Chinese law, which states that no evidence identification should be conducted by the related departments.

3. There was a discrepancy in the times and locations of the evidence. The lawyers suggested that they were fabricated and included in the evidence at a later date.

4. Article 300 of the Penal Code did not apply to the case, as practicing Falun Gong does not amount to undermining the implementation of law.

Attorneys' Defense Interrupted

The judge interrupted and stopped one lawyer when he argued that the wrong law was being used to prosecute the practitioners.

Another lawyer argued that there is no law in China criminalizing Falun Gong. The judge stopped him and said, “You always bring up this same issue!”

The third lawyer pointed out the discrepancy in the time and location of the evidence, and there was no reply from the judge and the procurator.

One local lawyer pleaded guilty for his client to get a lighter sentence. According to the family, this attorney was placed under tremendous pressure from the authorities and changed his defense argument.

The person who defended his family member was interrupted whenever he mentioned that it was not illegal to believe in Falun Gong.

The trial continued into the afternoon. The procurator hastily responded to questions, claiming that “time was tight.”

The families and lawyers protested, stating that the judge and the procurator abused their power and the trial was not impartial.

In the final defense statement, the 12 practitioners refuted the charges. They insisted that they were innocent of all charges. They reiterated that having a belief does not make one guilty, and that their belief in Falun Gong is legal. They demanded that the procurator bring applicable laws to the bench.

Judge Wu Shibin said, “Nobody said that practicing Falun Gong is illegal.” In response, the practitioners, including the one who pleaded guilty, proclaimed their innocence. The judge then ended the session.

Persons Responsible for the Persecution:

Lu Shibin (吕世滨), presiding judge, Songbei District Court: +086-451-88107122Shan Dandan (单丹丹), procurator, Songbei District Procuratorate” +086-451-88080095Ma Mingren (马明仁), chief, Songbei District Police Department, +086-451-88191101

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