Beijing Man Remains Detained for His Faith after Three Court Hearings
(Minghui.org) A former math teacher had a third court appearance on March 22, 2017 to face charges that he “used a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Li Lanqiang used to work at Taipinglu Middle School in Beijing, but he lost his job and was arrested multiple times for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. In August 2015, he filed a criminal complaint against former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin for ordering the persecution of Falun Gong that resulted in his repeated detentions.
The local police retaliated by arresting him again, on April 20, 2016. He was soon indicted for his faith and ordered to face trial. The first hearing on October 13, 2016 was adjourned in 10 minutes when he requested the judge and other officials to be recused. He was shocked with electric batons after the second hearing on February 9, 2017.
His lawyers were able to present their defense arguments during the third hearing in March. They argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that their client should never have been prosecuted by exercising his constitutional right to freedom of belief.
The lawyers also argued that the Falun Gong materials confiscated from Mr. Li’s home could not be used as evidence against him, as they were his lawful possessions and caused no harm to anyone, much less undermine law enforcement.
They demanded his acquittal, but the judge adjourned the third hearing without issuing a verdict. Mr. Li remains at Fangshan District Detention Center.
Threats Issued Before Mr. Li Was Indicted
Mr. Li revealed that he was interrogated by some prosecutors at the detention center in late August 2016. As he refused to admit to wrongdoing, one prosecutor said, “Well, you just wait to see what’s in store for you!”
Another prosecutor, Zhang Jun, followed up, “If you want to be so stubborn, you can only expect a guilty verdict from the court!”
Mr. Li was indicted days later, with his case forwarded to Fangshan Court on September 8, 2016. The court then proceeded to bar his lawyers from entering the courthouse to review his case file. Both his family and lawyers filed complaints against the court.
One of his lawyers, Mr. Wen Donghai, visited him on September 27 to prepare for his defense. Mr. Li asked to have a piece of paper to jot down key talking points, but the guards turned down his request. The guards also stood right behind him and didn’t walk away until the lawyer protested against the invasion of privacy.
The first hearing was held on October 13, 2016. Mr. Li requested that the judge, the prosecutor, and the clerk be recused from the trial because he deemed them, all atheists, unfit to try him, a believer of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The judge said he needed time to consider the request and soon adjourned the session.
When the trial resumed on February 9, 2017, the judge told Mr. Li that his recusal request had been turned down. The second hearing concluded without a verdict being issued. Mr. Li talked to his family while waiting to be taken back to the detention center, and an official demanded that he shut up.
Mr. Li questioned what law prohibited him from talking, and the official ordered several bailiffs to shock him with electric batons. He immediately became dizzy and fell. His head knocked against a wall and started bleeding.
Mr. Li’s lawyers brought up the electric-shock episode during the third hearing on March 22. The judge said the incident had nothing to do with the case and asked the lawyers to lodge a complaint with relevant departments. He also refused to acquit Mr. Li as requested by his lawyers.