(Minghui.org) Ms. Guo Xiaoping is being tried by Anping County Court for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being perseucted by the Chinese communist regime.

Court officials coerced Ms. Gao’s family into dismissing her defense attorneys between the first session on February 15, 2017 and the second hearing on March 22.

Arrest and Extortion

Ms. Guo was arrested at her home on December 19, 2016. Plainclothes officers from the Anping County Police Department and Chengguan Town Police Station burst into her home when her mother opened the door. Without showing any identification, the officers arrested Ms. Guo, who was still in her pajamas.

She was later taken to Hengshui Detention Center.

Sun Xinghe, head of the local domestic security division, forwarded Ms. Guo’s case to the Procuratorate. Officials there extorted money from Ms. Guo's family by offering to drop the case in exchange, but still sent the case to court.

Ms. Gao was first arrested on June 18, 2009. She was taken to a detention center, and eventually released on bail.

Trial Suspended

In the first court session on February 15, 2017, the two defense attorneys informed the court that two new procurators had been assigned to Ms Gao's case in 2014, after the previous procurator, Jia Dongsheng, died in 2013, but they had not been informed about any of the case details. The attorneys also listed reasons why the case did not comply with the law.

The judge adjourned the trial.

Family Pressured into Dismissing Attorneys

Instead of returning the case to the Procuratorate, court officials pressured Ms. Guo's family into dismissing their attorneys under threat of a large fine. Intimidated by the officials and without legal knowledge, the family dismissed the defense attorneys on March 8. Ms. Guo was taken from Hengshui Detention Center to the court to sign the letter of dismissal.

Ms. Guo's uncle, also an attorney, attended the first court session but worked against her interests. He punched her during a recess and tried to force her to plead guilty.