(Minghui.org) Mr. Li Baohua, a Qitaihe City resident, was arrested on May 8, 2016 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
The 43-year-old man’s first court date was March 22, 2017, but the presiding judge adjourned the session as soon as the defense lawyer requested that the judge be recused for failing to notify his client of the hearing in advance.
The judge went on to hold a second hearing on a day on which the lawyer had a time conflict. She also barred Mr. Li’s family from attending the hearing and scolded them for disrupting the trial when they later complained about her violation of legal procedures.
Mr. Li first appeared in front of Judge Liu Xiaoyan on March 22, at the detention center where he remains held. Judge Liu began the court session by asking if Mr. Wang Zhenjiang, the defense lawyer, had any recusal requests.
Mr. Wang complained that the court never gave his client three days' advance notice of the hearing as required by law. He thus requested the judge and her clerks be recused. Mr. Wang further argued that prosecutor Jiang Lin should also be removed from the case, as he failed to fulfill the procuratorate’s responsibility to ensure the court’s compliance with legal procedures.
Judge Liu responded that she would then hold a second hearing on March 27. Mr. Wang immediately raised an objection as he was scheduled to defend another client in court on that day. Liu ignored him and adjourned the first hearing.
Mr. Wang tried again by mailing a written request to reschedule the second hearing. He included in the request the court notice he received from his other client’s case.
As Judge Liu never responded to the lawyer’s written request, Mr. Li’s wife and parents weren’t sure whether the hearing would take place. Still they arrived at the detention center at 12:40 p.m. on March 27, just in case the judge decided to proceed with the new hearing.
They saw a car bearing the procuratorate’s special license plate arrive at 1:28 p.m., two minutes before the scheduled opening time of the hearing. Prosecutor Jiang Lin was inside in the car, but he refused to give a definitive answer as to whether the hearing would go on.
At 1:34 p.m., two other cars, one unmarked and the other bearing the court’s special license plate, arrived and went straight inside without stopping at the gate to talk to the family.
The family waited and waited, but no court bailiffs ever showed up to bring them inside as they did during the first hearing. The detention center security guards had said that trial attendees must be accompanied inside by court bailiffs.
It was already 2 p.m., and it dawned on the family that Judge Liu never intended to allow them to attend the hearing in the first place. They drove to the courthouse to file a complaint but were told the court officials were in a meeting.
Mr. Li’s wife and parents returned to the detention center and kept waiting outside. Prosecutor Jiang Lin’s car emerged at 2:50 p.m. but went back inside as soon as he noticed the family. He, however, turned around to the front gate when he saw the family had moved to wait for him at the back door.
Mr. Li’s family followed him to the front gate. This time, Jiang’s car stopped, but he refused to tell them whether the hearing had been held. He summoned two guards, who soon came out to threaten the family.
As this was unfolding, the court’s two cars pulled out and sped off. Only then did Jiang confirm to the family, “Yes, we did hold the hearing.” He, too, sped off.
Mr. Li’s family visited the courthouse again and saw Judge Liu already back in her office. She claimed that her only job was to preside over the trial, not to issue permission to spectators. The family pointed out that she gave the order to allow them to attend the first hearing.
The family turned to the court president, who said he would look into the matter the next day.
Mr. Li’s wife had to work the next morning, so her in-laws went to the court by themselves.
The court president was nowhere to be found. The elderly couple went to see Judge Liu again. As soon as she saw them, she yelled, “You guys messed up both hearings!”
Mr. Li’s mother reminded her that the lawyer wouldn’t have raised the recusal request had she notified Mr. Li of the hearing as required by law.
Liu changed the topic and scolded the couple for not stopping their son from practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Li’s father refuted that their son did nothing wrong, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong.
Liu refused to answer which law Mr. Li had allegedly broken that resulted in his prosecution. She became irritated when the elderly couple complained again about her denial of their right to attend the trial. She had bailiffs escort the couple out of her office.
Related report in Chinese:黑龙江七台河市李葆华被非法开庭经过