Two Hebei Women Illegally Tried as Defense Lawyers and Witnesses Removed from Courtroom
(Minghui.org) Two Falun Gong practitioners, Ms. Pang Xiaohong and Ms. Yang Jinmei, were illegally tried at the Changli County Court in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, on February 7, 2018.
Their daughters, slated to be witnesses on their behalf, were arrested and taken away by police. Their defense lawyers were driven out of the courtroom.
Officers from the Niutouya Police Station arrested Ms. Pang and Ms. Yang at the local market on April 27, 2018, as they were telling people about the communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong. A few days later, the police ransacked Ms. Pang's home without a warrant and confiscated her family's personal belongings.
Both practitioners were sent to the Qinhuangdao City First Detention Center on May 11, 2017, and their cases were forwarded to the procuratorate two weeks later.
The two practitioners were tried on February 7, 2018, without defense witnesses present.
1. Two Daughters Arrested
Ms. Pang's daughter, Ms. Wen Xin, and Ms. Yang's daughter, Ms. Yang Yang, arrived at the court at around 8:00 a.m. on the day of the trial. Later, they were asked to go to the mediation room. As they waited, a bailiff took their defense statements for examination. Court personnel told them that their statements had “anti-government content” and refused to give them back.
At 11:00 a.m., court officials questioned Ms. Wen Xin about her relationship with Ms. Pang even though she was legally cited as Ms. Pang's defender. One of her family members had to go back home, 40 miles away, to fetch her family registry. When the registry was brought to the court, it was past 1:00 p.m.
All the family members of the two practitioners were told to proceed to a security check after 2:00 p.m. But before the two daughters got through the security check, they were requested to go the meditation room again. The court staff asked them questions about their identities and their purpose for coming to the court.
A few minutes later, over a dozen police officers came to the meditation room. They claimed that the two daughters had been reported to the authorities for obstructing a court order. They forcibly dragged them into a police car and took them to the police station.
When the two daughters asked the police the reason for their arrest, an officer said that they possessed Falun Gong materials. The two daughters told them the materials were the defense documents for the trial of two Falun Gong practitioners. The police held them until past 6:00 p.m.
2. Defense Lawyer Driven Out of Courtroom
In the courtroom, Ms. Pang's lawyer was asked to hand over his bag for a security check. When the lawyer questioned their legal grounds and refused to cooperate, he was driven out of the courtroom.
Both practitioners' family members had to go through security checks to enter the courtroom. Ms. Pang's husband had forgotten his ID and was not allowed to go in. None of the practitioners' friends were allowed to observe the hearing.
The trial began without any of the defense lawyers present and lasted less than two hours. Both practitioners declared their innocence.