(Minghui.org) A Tianjin woman appeared in court three times in about as many weeks to face charges that she “used a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison practitioners of Falun Gong – a spiritual discipline based on the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Ms. Chai Baohua was home on December 7, 2016 when more than 30 agents broke in and arrested her. One officer revealed that they had been monitoring her for a long time.

She appeared in court for the first time on July 14, 2017. One of her lawyers requested that the entire panel of judges and prosecutor Xu Bingyi be recused, as he deemed them, atheist Chinese Communist Party members, unfit to try his client for her spiritual faith.

Presiding Judge Shi Xiujin recessed the hearing immediately. When he resumed the session, he rejected the recusal request. The lawyer making the request questioned the legality of the rejection decision, and Shi signaled to continue the hearing.

While questioning Ms. Chai, her other lawyer learned that she never received the court date notice as required by law. This second lawyer immediately requested a postponement of the trial. Shi asked a few questions and announced that the trial would resume the following Monday.

During the second hearing on July 20, both lawyers argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or label it a cult, and that their client should never have been prosecuted for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief.

Judge Shi kept interrupting the lawyers and soon stopped the hearing before it was done. He talked to the lawyers immediately afterwards, but none of them agreed to stop defending their client.

The third hearing was held on August 7. The lawyers reiterated that it is every Chinese citizen’ basic human right to practice their chosen spiritual faith or religion, and that there was no legal basis whatsoever to charge their client.

Shi threatened to halt the hearing if the lawyers kept talking. The lawyers refused to back down, and Shi stopped the hearing.

Shi then ordered the lawyers to a private room to have a talk. They again refused to give in to his demands. Shi announced that they would have another hearing later.

Ms. Chai remains at Beichen District Detention Center following her arrest.

Judge Shi: +86-22-86818199, +86-22-86881892Prosecutor Xu: +86-22-86813311 ext. 8805