Family Members and Attorneys Harassed at Trial of Falun Gong Practitioner
(Minghui.org) When two women were tried in a city in northeastern China on September 8, 2017, most of their relatives were kept out of the courtroom, and their attorneys were harassed.
Ms. Shi Jing and Ms. Shao Ying, both Falun Gong practitioners in their late 40s, were arrested on April 2, 2017. They had been driving their car near a tourist region in Taikang County, Heilongjiang Province. They have been detained ever since.
At their trial in Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, their lawyers pleaded not guilty on their behalf. The two women also testified in their own defense.
Only One Relative Per Family Allowed in Courtroom
Several dozen police officers, including a county police sheriff, were stationed outside the courtroom to keep out any family members or other Falun Dafa practitioners.
Eventually, one person from each family was allowed inside. Of the 27 seats in the courtroom, 25 were occupied by people assigned to be there by the authorities.
The defendants' families hired a local lawyer and another one from Beijing. The court reported the names of the attorneys to the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee, which pressured the local attorney and forced him to drop the case ten days before trial. The families had to go with another local attorney. The committee also set certain rules for the Beijing attorney.
The day before the trial, the authorities notified the attorneys that they would have to go through a security inspection, even though, according to the law, that is not a requirement for attorneys. They were also told that they should not bring laptops or mobile phones into the courtroom. The attorneys had to submit to an inspection before entering the courtroom on the day of trial.
Ms. Shi and Ms. Shao were charged with “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
Their lawyers argued two main points:
First, there is no law in China that criminalizes Falun Gong, so their clients should never have been arrested for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief. The prosecutor failed to specify which law the two practitioners broke or how they undermined law enforcement;
Second, the possession of Falun Gong books is legal. The General Administration of Press and Publication issued notices in 1999 to ban the publication of Falun Gong books, but the notices were repealed by the General Administration in 2011.
Ms. Shi and Ms. Sao also told the court how their health and character improved after they started practicing Falun Dafa.