Lawyer Expelled from Courtroom; Practitioner Sentenced Based on Superseded Law
(Minghui.org) A Falun Gong practitioner arrested last June was tried in Chengdu, Sichuan Province for her faith. She was found guilty of having violated a statutory interpretation of the Supreme People's Court that has been superseded, after a show trial.
Ms. Jing Huiling was sentenced to 18 months in prison on August 3, 2017 for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline persecuted by the communist regime in China since 1999.
Although the trial was supposed to be open to the public, the court allowed only the defendant's family members into the courtroom. The personal identification documents of those allowed into the courtroom were carefully screened the day before the trial. A security check was set up at the court entrance to search the two lawyers and families, and cell phones were not allowed in the courtroom.
Xie Gang, the presiding judge, did not allow the lawyers' assistant to take notes. During the cross-examination, one of the lawyers requested the prosecution to display all the evidence. Xie denied the request and expelled the lawyer from the courtroom.
The prosecutor quoted an abolished statutory interpretation by the Supreme People's Court as the basis for Ms. Jing's sentencing and ignored an objection from the other defense lawyer. The judge frequently interrupted Ms. Jing and her lawyer as they spoke. As a result, she could not effectively express her case in her closing statement, and the lawyer could not finish his closing argument.
Ms. Jing filed an appeal immediately after the sentencing.
Background on the Interpretation of Criminal Law
The indictment was based on the statutory interpretation of Article 300 of the Criminal Law (“Interpretation” hereinafter) issued by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate back in November 1999, four months after Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Gong. The interpretation directed that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible, as Jiang had labeled the practice a “cult.”
A new statutory interpretation of the Criminal Law was developed to replace the 1999 version, and it took effect on February 1, 2017. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult, the indictment lacked legal basis.