(Minghui.org) The judge in the trial of a Falun Gong practitioner promised to hold a second hearing when her lawyer objected to the absence of a key prosecution witness. The judge, however, later proceeded to convict her without another hearing.

Ms. Zhang Xiaofen was tried on December 23, 2016 on charges of “using 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.

The Laiyuan County resident was sentenced to three years and six months in prison on March 29, 2017, while she was waiting to be given a new court date. She was transferred to Shijiazhuang Women's Prison three days later.

Details of First Hearing

Ms. Zhang’s lawyer argued during the December hearing that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong, and that his client should never have been prosecuted for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief and freedom of the press.

The prosecutor had no answer when pressed by the lawyer to specify which law Ms. Zhang had broken.

Ms. Zhang was seized from home at 5:00 a.m. on August 5, 2016 together with her three overnight guests, who all practice Falun Gong. The indictment claimed that her private gathering with other practitioners “disturbed social order.”

Her lawyer argued that such private gatherings are protected by law and that singling out Falun Gong practitioners’ gathering amounted to unlawful discrimination against the spiritual belief.

The indictment also listed a printer and other items confiscated from Ms. Zhang’s home as evidence against her. The lawyer argued that the police never found a printer at his client’s home. He admitted that his client did own some Falun Gong materials, but they were her lawful possessions and caused no harm to anyone, let alone undermine law enforcement.

The prosecutor then mentioned a key eyewitness: Li Zixian, the Laiyuan County Party Secretary. Li purportedly saw Ms. Zhang and another practitioner talk to people about Falun Gong at a local tourist attraction. Li ordered the arrest of the other practitioner who talked to him.

Secretary Li, however, wasn’t present in court for cross-examination.

Ms. Zhang went to the police station to inquire about the arrested practitioner, and officer Zhang Fang refused to listen to her explain why the persecution of Falun Gong was wrong. Days later, Ms. Zhang was arrested at home. Her lawyer argued that the arrest was police retaliation against his client.

Like Secretary Li, officer Zhang was listed as a witness but did not appear in court.

Upon the lawyer’s request, the judge said that he would summon Li Zixian to testify at the next hearing, which never materialized.

Ms. Zhang was sentenced to prison about three months later.

Parties Responsible for the Persecution:

Li Zixian (李自贤): Laiyuan County party secretary, +086-13623226868Chen Hongli (陈红利): presiding judge, Laiyuan Court, +86-13703222148Tian Bo (田波): prosecutor, +086-13703227938