Prosecutor in Falun Gong Case Ups Recommended Sentences Despite Lack of Legal Basis
(Minghui.org) The prosecutor in a Falun Gong case in Qiqihar City upped his recommended prison sentences in the course of a trial, despite the lack of legal basis.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.
Ms. Yang Shuqin, Ms. Xia Tingting, and Mr. Liu Qinsheng were arrested over the course of two days after being reported for putting up posters with information about the persecution of Falun Gong. Ms. Yang and Ms. Xia were seized on June 28, 2017, and Mr. Liu was taken into custody the following day. The arresting officers covered Mr. Liu's head with a black plastic bag before leading him to their cruiser.
Ms. Xia was beaten so badly in Wulong Police Station that her legs turned black and blue and her fingers hurt for a long time. One officer who beat her was Zhou Gang.
The three practitioners made three court appearances in 2018: on March 21, April 25, and May 18.
Their lawyers entered not guilty pleas for them, because no law in China says that practicing Falun Gong is a crime.
During the second hearing on April 25, the lawyers requested that the prosecutor be recused because he failed to include a required legal document in his indictment of the three practitioners. By law, the police must submit a written decision to file a case against a suspect before he or she can be indicted. That written decision was nowhere to be found in the practitioners' files.
The judge ignored the recusal request but quickly adjourned the session.
When the hearing resumed on May 18, the prosecutor alleged to have found more evidence. He initially accused the practitioners of putting up 19 posters, but he changed the number to 92 during the third hearing. He also increased the amount of Falun Gong informational materials confiscated from the practitioners' homes by several times.
The lawyers questioned the authenticity of the prosecution's new evidence. By law, each piece of evidence must be signed by two different people involved in the case, but there was only one person's signature on all the paperwork in the three practitioners' files. Moreover, the prosecutor failed to present any physical evidence to back up his claims, and there was no witness to verify that the practitioners had actually put up the number of posters they were accused of posting.
The prosecutor alleged that Mr. Liu was a repeat offender, citing the latter's two years of forced labor in the past. His lawyer countered that Mr. Liu should never have been given forced labor for his faith in Falun Gong.
The prosecutor ignored the lawyer and recommended 2 to 3 years in jail for Mr. Liu. During the first two hearings, the prosecutor had asked for a maximum of 2 years for Mr. Liu and 3 to 5 years for Ms. Xia and Ms. Yang. He also upped the recommended sentences for the two woman to 4 to 6 years during the third hearing.