(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioners Mr. Zhang Yongbao and Mr. Gao Jun of Anshan City were arrested by police from the Liaoyang County Police Department in July 2017. Mr. Zhang was sentenced to six years in prison and fined 30,000 yuan on January 21, 2018, while Mr. Gao was sentenced to nine years and fined 50,000 yuan.

Before their filed appeals were heard, the presiding judge indicated that the outcome had been predetermined; that is, to uphold the lower court's verdict.

The investigation and sentencing of the two practitioners were conducted illegally. The court tried to prevent the family from hiring lawyers. They also did not notify the families when the sentencing was issued. Officials even detained at least one of the family members and tried, unsuccessfully, to detain the lawyer.

Arrested and Framed

Mr. Zhang Yongbao was reported when he hung Falun Gong banners on streets in Liaoyang County on the evening of June 25, 2017. Domestic Security officers arrested him, ransacked his home, and seized his car on July 4. The police found that he had connections with Mr. Gao Jun and also ransacked Mr. Gao's home, seized his personal property, and arrested him the following day. The officers involved failed to present a search warrant.

Mr. Gao's family tried to hire a lawyer for him, but was stopped by Domestic Security officers. Mr. Gao's sister then hired a local lawyer to visit him at the detention center. When the detention center contacted the Domestic Security Division, his family members were told that Mr. Gao had committed the crime of “threatening national security.” They were also told that the lawyer was prohibited from seeing him until after the sentencing.

What the Domestic Security police did was against the law. Article 96 of the “Criminal Litigation Law” states: “The suspect may hire lawyers for consultation, and to represent them to conduct litigation or file charges after being interrogated or kept under control by the investigators.”

Mr. Gao's sister and an undisclosed party went to the Domestic Security Division several times to ask for the money she had deposited with Mr. Gao. They refused to return it and ended up detaining them instead. Officers then forced her to give written statements to them for use as evidence against her brother.

They also tried to detain the lawyer but were unsuccessful. The lawyer went to the county procuratorate and filed a complaint. The procuratorate then called the Domestic Security Division to rectify the matter.

Procuratorate Prevented Lawyer from Reviewing Files

Mr. Gao's family and lawyer inquired about his case repeatedly, but the procuratorate claimed that they had not received his file.

The family's and lawyer's requests to see Mr. Gao were denied again when his file finally reached the court. It was not until the day before the trial that the lawyer was allowed to see the defendant with the judge present.

Illegal Sentencing

The two practitioners were tried three times before being given their prison terms.

Mr. Gao met with his lawyer and signed a document to appeal. He appointed his sister to argue for him in the appeal trial. They submitted that documentation to Liu Yongsong to be filed with the appellate court.

When the family inquired about the case in March 2018, they found that the document had never been submitted by the appellate court. The family visited the court several times and tried to re-submit the appeal. But they could not find the judge in charge. They ended up not being able to defend Mr. Gao when the trial was held.

The appeal trial took place on April 16, 2018, and lasted for less than 20 minutes. The judge deprived the practitioners of their right to make arguments and abruptly called a recess and ended the proceedings.

Mr. Gao’s family believe that the judges, Zou Guojiang and Sun Kai, deprived him of his right to a fair trial and filed a complaint against them on the morning of April 27, 2018.