(Minghui.org) Pingdu District Court of Shandong held a second hearing for a female Falun Gong practitioner on January 18, 2017. She was charged with "using a cult to undermine law enforcement," a standard pretext used by the Chinese Communist regime to persecute practitioners.

About a dozen Falun Gong practitioners and her relatives who waited outside the courthouse were harassed by the police.

Ms. Zhang Xiumei, 68, was arrested in September 2016 while telling people about the persecution of Falun Gong at a farmer's market. She was taken to Pudong Detention Center. Police ransacked her home and confiscated two large bags of Falun Gong informational materials. She was initially tried on December 22, 2016, when her lawyers defended her innocence. The court adjourned without a verdict.

During the second hearing on January 18, Ms. Zhang again asserted her innocence. Ms. Zhang's lawyers argued that the police did not follow legal procedure to collect evidence, and the supposed evidence were books and DVDs of the Chinese New Year Gala produced by the NTD television station. These materials did not infringe upon anyone's interests or cause any harm to anyone.

The court adjourned in the afternoon without rendering a verdict.

Relatives and Friends Harassed by Police Outside Courthouse

Ms. Zhang’s relatives and about ten Falun Gong practitioners waited outside the courthouse during the trial. The deputy director of the local 610 Office and over a dozen police officers, some in plainclothes, stood nearby.

When one of Ms. Zhang's relatives tried to enter the courthouse, she was immediately stopped.

Two policemen demanded a driver to show his license as he and other Falun Gong practitioners waited in a car. When the driver refused, over a dozen police surrounded the car and attempted to arrest the passengers.

As the driver tried to drive away, police blocked his way with two police cars. Police also searched another car driven by a Falun Gong practitioner, but was unable to find anything.

When Ms. Zhang's husband and lawyers came out of the courthouse for lunch break, they saw what was happening.

Ms. Zhang's husband questioned the deputy director of the 610 Office. “You wouldn't let them inside and forced them wait out here, so why are you blocking their cars? Is that even legal?”

“They are not breaking any law here,” said one of Ms. Zhang’s lawyers. “Why are you surrounding them?”

The deputy director of the 610 Office then pushed and scuffled with the lawyers, and was only stopped when Ms. Zhang's husband intervened. As more relatives of Falun Gong practitioners showed up at the courthouse, police backed away and allowed the practitioners to leave.

Ms. Zhang was given a three-year sentence two days after the trial on January 20. She and her lawyers are currently appealing her sentence.

Related Article56 Chinese Citizens Sign Petition to Rescue Ms. Zhang Xiumei of Shandong Province