Appeals Court Upholds Guilty Verdict Against Woman Convicted for Her Faith
(Minghui.org) A 78-year-old woman in Mishan City was deceived into giving self-incriminating evidence and sentenced to one year in prison and fined 10,000 yuan. The local appeals court ruled less than two months later to uphold the guilty verdict against her.
Ms. Zhang Chenghua was arrested on May 11, 2017 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. The local Mishan City Court held a hearing on January 22, 2018 and sentenced her to prison on March 27.
Ms. Zhang's family hired a local lawyer to appeal the case, but Jixi City Intermediate Court instructed the lawyer not to defend her as innocent. Her family wasn't able to get any updates from the lawyer. They called the appeals court on April 19 and were told that the case hadn't been registered with the higher court yet.
Ms. Zhang's loved ones visited her at the local detention center the following day and learned that the appeals court had already sent people to talk to her about her case. Her family returned to the appeals court and submitted a request to represent her in her appeal. Judge Yang Zongyuan warned them that they had no plan to hold a hearing.
Ms. Zhang's family and lawyer returned to the detention center on April 21. Only the lawyer was allowed to see her, and he came out saying that she has decided to not use him for legal representation. Her family knew that she must be opposed to the guilty plea that the lawyer was instructed by the court to enter for her. They then dropped the lawyer.
Judge Yang demanded that Ms. Zhang's family submit their identity proof as part of their application to defend her. Her family visited their local police station and was told that their IDs, issued by the Ministry of Public Security, would be the best proof of their identities. Yang, however, refused to accept their ID as identify proof.
Ms. Zhang's family was able to find a new lawyer on the afternoon of April 27. The new lawyer immediately visited her and had her sign necessary legal documents. He then went to the appeals court, but Yang was unavailable to take his application to represent Ms. Zhang. The lawyer had to leave his application with the receptionist.
The appeals court called Ms. Zhang's family on May 2, asking them to visit them right away. The family didn't have time until the following day. Judge Yang gave them a copy of his ruling, which was dated April 28. Ms. Zhang's family was shocked to read that Yang has decided to uphold the guilty verdict against Ms. Zhang.
Yang said Ms. Zhang's family could file a motion to reconsider his ruling if they didn't like it.
Ms. Zhang's family called the detention center hours later and learned that the guards there had long been notified of the appeals court's ruling.