Family Fights for Right to Testify in Defense of Illegally Sentenced Falun Gong Practitioner
(Minghui.org) An intermediate court judge in Dezhou City kept turning down a local brother and sister’s request to testify in defense of their mother, who is appealing her prison sentence. The judge relented only after the siblings filed multiple complaints against him for violating their legal rights.
Ms. Wang Yanzhi was arrested on May 22, 2016, after being reported for distributing materials about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. She was sentenced to 4 years in prison on December 8.
The 60-year-old woman filed an appeal to Dezhou City Intermediate Court soon afterwards. Her out-of-town lawyer submitted his defense arguments to the higher court in person on February 15, 2017. A few days later, he mailed out an open-hearing request, which was received by the court on February 21.
Ms. Wang’s son and daughter met with Xu Wanbiao, one of the three judges in charge of the appeal case, on March 6. The siblings expressed their wish to defend their mother’s innocence, but Xu refused to accept their request to testify in court. He claimed that they had missed the deadline to file such a request, and that it was no use because there was very little chance of an open hearing.
Ms. Wang’s daughter tried again on March 9, but Xu still declined to process her request. She went to file a complaint against him with the Dezhou City Procuratorate, only to be turned away.
The young woman was not deterred. Three days later, she mailed out copies of her complaint to the following agencies: Shandong Province People’s Superior Court, Shandong Province People’s Procuratorate, Shandong Province Discipline Bureau, Dezhou City Intermediate Court, and Dezhou City Discipline Committee.
She accused Xu of depriving her and her brother’s right to defend their mother in court and requested the intermediate court be ordered to hold an open session to hear their mother’s appeal.
Judge Xu called the daughter on March 14, saying that he was ready to process her request to testify in court.