Judge Tries Six People in One Day for Refusing to Give up Their Faith
(Minghui.org) Six people in Lanzhou City were arrested in separate occasions for refusing to give up their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted in China.
They were tried on August 24 in Chengguan Court, Lanzhou City, by same judge and prosecutor. Three of the Falun Gong practitioners were forced to plead guilty against their will. They had court-appointed lawyers, who were pressured to enter guilty pleas on their behalf because of the ongoing persecution. All six of them knew that they had broken no law and demanded to be acquitted.
Five of the practitioners were arrested in September of 2017 and one in May of this year. Mr. Wang Jilin was arrested on May 13, 2017; Mr. Yang Xuegui on September 19, 2016; Mr. Zhou Wei on September 14, 2016; and Mr. Li Fubin, Ms. Zheng Shu, and Ms. Fang Jianping were all arrested on September 3, 2016.
The trial was a formality in the eyes of the practitioners’ families and lawyers. Judge Wang Haibin denied Mr. Zhou and Mr. Yang’s families’ request to take the witness stand, because he claimed that he couldn’t conclude their hearings in an hour if he allowed the families to testify.
When Mr. Zhou, Mr. Yang, and Mr. Li’s lawyers asked when their clients’ hearings would take place, the judge told them that it was “first come, first serve” and that their hearings had to be held that morning.
On August 24, six police vehicles and over 20 police and domestic security officers surrounded the courthouse. Mr. Wang was tried first. The court appointed a lawyer for him and his hearing ended quickly.
Mr. Zhou and Mr. Yang were tried together next. The court security officers scanned the IDs of their family members and would not allow them to bring anything into the courtroom. Their lawyers pleaded not guilty on their clients’ behalf and refuted all the evidence presented by the prosecution. The judge ended the hearing by noon without announcing a verdict.
Mr. Li, Ms. Zheng, and Ms. Fang were tried in the afternoon. Mr. Li hired a lawyer from Beijing and the other two had court-appointed lawyers. All three defendants stated that they had not broken any law and were not guilty of the crimes that they were charged with.
Mr. Li and Ms. Zheng were physically unfit to stand trial because of the abuse they had sustained while they were detained. They both suffered from severe hypertension. Ms. Zheng had to leave the courtroom during the trial.
When Mr. Li attempted to read his defense statement, the judge repeatedly stopped him. The judge eventually ordered a court officer to confiscate Mr. Li’s written defense from him.