(Minghui.org) A 71-year-old woman in Jinzhou was recently tried on charges of “using a cult to undermine law enforcement”–a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime to imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

Ms. Xu Xiuyun credits Falun Gong–a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance–for helping her recover from arthritis and other debilitating diseases. As such, she never shied away from telling people that Falun Gong was nothing like what was depicted by the state propaganda.

She was first arrested on June 29, 2014, for distributing DVDs containing information about Falun Gong. Officers Yang Guang and Huang Jian intended to send her to the local detention center but had to release her on bail when she failed the required medical examination. They, however, showed up at her house several times soon afterward to try to get her to sign some documents so they could submit her case to the local procuratorate.

Ms. Xu firmly refused to comply with the demand and never heard from the police again until August 2016, when she was suddenly given one year of house arrest. She went out one August day in 2017 to talk to people about Falun Gong and was taken back into custody. Police alleged that she had violated her house arrest conditions.

Ms. Xu appeared in Linghe District Court on November 22, 2017. She requested that all members of the Chinese Communist Party be recused from her trial. Judge Zhang Xufang immediately rejected her request.

Ms. Xu’s lawyer pointed out that by law only the court president is authorized to make decisions regarding recusal requests. Zhang signaled for the hearing to go on.

The lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for Ms. Xu and refuted the charges against her. The prosecutor alleged that Ms. Xu violated Article 300 of the Criminal Law, which stipulates that those using a cult organization to undermine enforcement of the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

The lawyer rebutted that since the People’s Congress (China’s legislative body) has never enacted a law deeming Falun Gong a “cult,” former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin directed the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to issue a statutory interpretation of Article 300 in November 1999, which required that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

A new statutory interpretation that replaced the 1999 version took effect on February 1, 2017. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that an indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no law in China labels Falun Gong a cult, the indictment against Ms. Xu lacked a legal basis.

The lawyer also said that there was no inventory of confiscated items as required by law. He further opposed the prosecutor’s lumping Ms. Xu’s latest arrest together with her 2014 arrest. He countered that the two arrests should be treated as two separate cases, as the police failed to inform Ms. Xu of her case status between June 2014 and August 2016. As such, her 2014 arrest case should have been considered to be concluded without charges against her.

The prosecutor recommended a heavy sentence for Ms. Xu, citing the one year of forced labor she was previously given for refusing to renounce her faith in Falun Gong. The lawyer countered that his client should never have been detained for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief. He demanded her acquittal.

Judge Zhang adjourned the session without issuing a verdict. Ms. Xu remains at Jinzhou City Detention Center, where she has had high blood pressure and chest pain since her arrest.