(Minghui.org) Ms. Zhang Peihuan was sentenced to 8 months in prison for “using 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 mind-body practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

The 65-year-old resident of Tongjiangkou Town, Changtu County credits Falun Gong with returning her to health and giving her the energy to run her diner business. As such, she never wavered in her faith and told people that the persecution has lacked legal basis from the onset.

Ms. Zhang and her son were home on October 23, 2017, when Yang Yuping (deputy chief Yang Yuping of Changtu County Police Department), Liu Jianxin (head of Changtu domestic security office), and Zhou Jing (chief of Tongjiangkou Town Police Station) broke in to ransack her home.

Her son was released later that day, but she remains at Tieling Detention Center.

Ms. Zhang appeared in court on January 22, 2018 and was convicted weeks later. She is now appealing her case to Tieling Intermediate Court.

Son Threatened 4 Days before Trial

Ms. Zhang’s son tried to visit her at the detention center on October 25, but he was only allowed to deposit money for her, without being allowed to see her. He hired a lawyer to defend her innocence.

Prosecutor Li Hui of Changtu County Procuratorate returned the case to the police on November 27, but the local domestic security officer presented their case again on December 4 and persuaded Li to file an indictment against Ms. Zhang on December 22.

Ms. Zhang’s lawyer was told that the court date was set for January 22, 2018. Four days before the trial, chief Zhou Jing and the local political and legal affairs committee secretary showed up at her home to threaten her son. They warned him not to cause any trouble.

Ms. Zhang’s son was not deterred, and he informed the local Falun Gong practitioners of his mother’s upcoming trial. The practitioners then passed out invitations around town and encouraged the public to attend the trial.

Supporters Barred from Attending Supposedly Public Trial

More than 100 people showed up at the local courthouse on Ms. Zhang’s trial date. The court, however, insisted that only 20 people, including Ms. Zhang’s family, could attend the trial. Officers Yang Yuping, Liu Jianxin, Guo Xiaofeng, Guo Zhigang, and Shang Yufeng were on hand to check the 20 people’s IDs and question their relationships to Ms. Zhang.

The court president, who was also present, ignored protests from the rest of the supporters and ordered his bailiffs to drive the crowd out of the courthouse.

The bailiffs forcibly shut the glass door to the lobby. Some supporters refused to leave and leaned against the door. The court president ordered the bailiffs to lower the shutter door, as well.

Defense Lawyers Refute Prosecution Evidence

Ms. Zhang’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea for her. They argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult and that their client didn’t do anything to harm anyone, much less undermine law enforcement.

The prosecutor cited the interrogation record of Ms. Zhang’s son as evidence against her. Her lawyers countered that her son told them that he refused to sign the interrogation record after he realized it was full of fabrications against his mother.

The prosecution evidence also included 13 copies of unfinished brochures confiscated from Ms. Zhang’s home. The prosecutor argued that the brochures contained information about Falun Gong. Her lawyers pointed out that their client’s possession and production of Falun Gong informational materials was totally legal. They challenged the prosecutor to present in court the 13 said copies of brochures, but the prosecutor had nothing to show.

The lawyers pointed out that the police showed no IDs or search warrants when they arrested their client, nor did they give her a list of confiscated items as required by law.

Ms. Zhang also testified in her own defense and demanded an acquittal.

Judge Wang Ning adjourned the session without issuing a verdict.

Ms. Zhang’s son called judge Wang on February 2 and learned that his mother had been sentenced to 8 months in prison.