Appeal of Heilongjiang Teacher Denied After Secret Hearing
(Minghui.org) A teacher from Taiyangsheng Elementary School in Jixi City was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and fined 10,000 yuan for talking to people about Falun Gong. Her lawyer wasn't given a chance to defend her in court.
Ms. Sui Guilan appealed, but the local appeals court upheld her prison sentence without holding an open hearing.
Lawyer's Request to Dismiss the Case Denied
Ms. Sui was telling people about Falun Gong at the Qunxing Mall in Lishu Town on January 15, 2018, when someone reported her to the police. She was arrested by the head of the Lishu Town Police Station and her case was submitted to the Lishu District Procuratorate.
Ms. Sui hired a lawyer who submitted an attorney's opinion letter to the procuratorate on January 26.
In the letter, the lawyer pointed out that it is a basic right for followers of a religion or belief to talk to people about their faith. He said that the law used by the prosecution should be clearly identified, indicating which of Ms. Sui's actions undermined law enforcement. He stressed that practicing Falun Gong is not illegal nor is it illegal to possess Falun Gong informational materials.
As none of Ms. Sui's actions violated the law, the lawyer demanded that the case be dismissed and Ms. Sui be released.
However, the procuratorate ignored the letter and submitted Ms. Sui's case to the Jidong County Procuratorate on March 27.
On April 11, Ms. Sui's lawyer and her family went to the Jidong County Procuratorate to review her case and prepare a legal document.
Her family went to the Prosecution Division to submit the document. They were informed that Yin Shaoqi, the person-in-charge of the case, had gone out of town for training on April 8. Despite his absence, the procuratorate submitted the criminal prosecution document to the court on April 25.
When the lawyer contacted Gai Qiuhai, the vice president of the court, on May 23, Gai said that he would be in Beijing and was not in charge of the case. The lawyer then contacted Xu Zhongqi, president of the court, upon learning that Xu was in charge of the case.
Xu sounded anxious when he picked up the phone and asked the lawyer many questions. Afterwards, Xu refused to pick up the phone when the lawyer or Ms. Sui's family tried to contact him.
The family went to the court on May 25 to look for Xu and was told that he was not in. The family went to the Letters and Visits Office on May 28 to complain about the court's refusal to meet with the lawyer.
When the staff heard that it was a case regarding a Falun Gong practitioner, they informed the family that there is an internal announcement that Falun Gong cases will not be processed until the case reaches the Intermediate Court. The family was told to contact the Jidong Court for further information.
The family returned to the Jidong Court and a staff person helped them contact Xu's office, but he was not in. Several calls later, Gai picked up the phone and said that he had just returned and knew nothing of the case.
After several failed attempts to contact Xu, the family asked the staff to convey the message to Xu. When the staff members heard that it was about a Falun Gong case, they gave the excuse that another judge was temporarily taking over that day and knew nothing about the case.
Two Hearings Without Lawyer's Presence
Xu avoided the lawyer and scheduled two court sessions. For the first hearing, Ms. Sui refused to appear in court, as her lawyer was not present. In order to hold the trial again, Xu lied to Ms. Sui, telling that her lawyer had not accepted her case.
Without the presence of a lawyer for the defense, the Jidong County Court sentenced Ms. Sui to three years of imprisonment on June 25 and fined her 10,000 yuan.
Ms. Sui appealed the verdict.
Appeal Rejected Without Open Hearing
On August 28, the lawyer met the person responsible for the case, Li Rongjie from the Intermediate Court, and told him that Ms. Sui was tried without a lawyer's presence. Li asked if it was true and promised to check with Xu.
On September 3, the Intermediate Court upheld the original verdict.
Previous Arrests and Detention
This is not the first time that Ms. Sui has been arrested for her belief.
April 6, 2016: Ms. Sui was about to go to work when she was arrested for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese dictator who initiated and directed the persecution of Falun Gong. Her house was ransacked and she was detained for five days.
April 18, 2014: Ms. Sui was distributing DVDs about Shen Yun Performing Arts at a major market when someone reported her to the police. She was arrested and her home was ransacked. The police confiscated two cell phones, Falun Gong books, as well as other belongings, and detained her for seven days.
July 4, 2012: Ms. Sui was teaching her class when she was arrested and her house keys were confiscated. Her house was later ransacked. The police confiscated a computer that she used for teaching, three cell phones, and other personal items. Ms. Sui was sentenced to a labor camp for a year.
Apart from the arrests and incarceration, Ms. Sui was deprived of the right to teach, despite her high qualifications and being well-loved by her students. Instead, she was assigned to menial cleaning tasks.
Contact details of those involved in the persecution of Ms. Sui Guilan:
Yin Shaoduo, head of the Prosecution Department, Jidong County Procuratorate: +86-130-89791009 (cell), +86-467-5587479 (office)Xu Zhongqi, president of the Jidong County Court: +86-131-44665817
(Contact information for more participants in the persecution are available in the original Chinese article.)