Three Women Tried for Their Faith, Judge Praises Defense Lawyer
(Minghui.org) Three practitioners from Anshan City appeared in court on July 5, 2017 for a second time to face charges that they “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.
Their lawyers argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that their clients should never have been prosecuted for their faith. The lawyers also refuted prosecution evidence and pointed out violations of legal procedure committed by the police and judicial officials. After the hearing ended, one of the judges approached the lawyers and said that they had done a nice job of defending their clients.
This second court appearance was preceded by one that was halted midway on June 15, 2017, when all three practitioners fired their lawyers as a way to suspend the unfair trial.
The practitioners are Ms. Zhang Guangyuan, Ms. Zhang Weihua, and Ms. Gao Hongbo.
Brief Summary of Arrest
The practitioners were out walking on January 2, 2017, when someone asked Ms. Zhang Guangyuan for a calendar with information on Falun Gong that she was holding in her hands. The calendar was meant for her classmate, but she gave it to the person who asked for it. The person then followed them home and reported them to the police.
The next day, the practitioners gave a similar calendar to another man, who also reported them. The police followed them, arrested them, and took them to the police station. Their homes were ransacked.
Their arrests were approved on January 19, 2017, and charges were filed against them on May 2, 2017. Their first hearing was scheduled for June 15, 2017.
First Court Appearance
The practitioners were dragged into the courtroom on June 15 after they refused to cooperate. The judge gave them and their lawyers a hard time.
Ms. Zhang Guangyuan decided to fire her lawyer to express her disappointment with her unfair treatment. Ms. Gao's lawyer told the judge that since there was no lawyer to represent Ms. Zhang, by law the hearing should be adjourned, but the judge insisted on continuing.
Someone entered the courtroom a short time later and gave the judge a piece of paper. After reading it, the judge announced that Ms. Zhang's trial would be rescheduled, but that the hearing for the other two practitioners would continue.
Despite the lawyers' protest that a notice should be officially issued on the changes, the judge pressed on.
When Ms. Gao heard this, she told the judge that she would fire her lawyer, too.
Ms. Zhang Weihua then spoke up to say how, after practicing Falun Gong, she got along well with her family. She added that there was no law in China that deems practicing Falun Gong a crime and that it was wrong to use Article 300 to press charges against her. With that, she also fired her lawyer.
The judge had no choice but to adjourn the hearing. Afterward, he threatened Ms. Zhang Guangyuan that she would be given a heavy sentence if she hired another lawyer.
Second Court Appearance
The second hearing was held on July 5, 2017. The defense attorneys asked to see video of the first hearing to better understand the case, but the judge denied their request. He also threatened them, saying that he might have to have the Bureau of Justice step in to deal with them.
The attorney’s next request was for evidence confiscated from the practitioners' homes to be produced, but this was also denied.
One attorney argued that the charges against his client were totally baseless. The indictment cited the statutory interpretation of Article 300 of the Criminal Law (“Interpretation” hereinafter) issued by the People’s Supreme Court and the People’s Supreme Procuratorate back in November 1999, four months after the persecution of Falun Gong began. The interpretation noted that anyone practicing or spreading Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible as the practice was a cult.
The lawyer stated that a new statutory interpretation of the Criminal Law took effect on February 1, 2017, replacing the 1999-version statutory interpretation. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be issued based on solid legal grounds.
The other attorney said that using the old interpretation would result in an unjust outcome. He went on to say that entrapment was used in this case, so the evidence collected could not be used.
He pointed out that, when the practitioners were reported on January 2, the police did not record it. Instead, they followed the practitioners the next day. He added that the records mentioned only the names of the two people who reported the practitioners, but not their occupations or backgrounds.
Next, he asked why the police were able to identify one of the practitioners who was wearing a mask on January 3. On the day of arrest, the authorities did not record the names of the officers involved and the document listing the items confiscated was not issued by the approved unit.
Lastly, he said that since only one person handed the witness a calendar on January 2, the two other practitioners should not be included in the case. The same logic applied to the next day's events. He asked why all three practitioners had been arrested.
One of the lawyers also pointed out that the General Administration of Press and Publications Announcement 50, which was issued on March 1, 2011, repealed the ban on the publication of Falun Gong books. Hence, having the books and giving them to others is entirely legal.
A lawyer added that the three practitioners were not in an organization. They were just practicing Falun Gong to keep fit and be good people.
The practitioners took turns explaining what benefits they derived from practicing Falun Gong.
One of the judges approached the lawyers after the hearing and said they had done a nice job of defending their clients. He said he had been a lawyer for four years. One of the lawyers replied that the judge should not continue to cite outdated laws and should, instead, exempt the practitioners from criminal punishment. The judge responded that he would think about it and consult with his superiors.
Parties involved in this case:Li Yueguang, judge: +86-159-41288258Jiang Minghai, president of the court: +86-412-2696333 (office), +86-139-98061555 (cell)
(Contact information for other responsible parties is available in the original Chinese article.)
Related Article in Chinese:辽宁鞍山张光媛、张伟华、高洪波被非法庭审