(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioners Ms. Deng Ruzhu, Ms. Liu Fengmei, and Ms. Zhao Fengyuan were tried in Mengzi City Court on July 11, 2018, for studying the teachings of their belief.

The trial ran from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. More than 200 seats in the court were occupied, and still others stood at the back of the courtroom.

The judges were Zou Weiwen, Zou Wen, and Long Ye from Jianshui County. This case was appointed by the Yunnan Province Red River State Procuratorate, investigated by the Mengzi City Police Bureau Domestic Security Division, then transferred from the Mengzi City Procuratorate to the Jianshui County Procuratorate and prosecuted by the Jianshui County Court.

On August 31, 2017, Ms. Liu Fengmei, Ms. Zhao Fengyuan, and Ms. Liu Danhua were reading the book Zhuan Falun at Ms. Deng Ruzhu’s home. Officers from the Mengzi City Police Bureau Domestic Security Division and the Xicheng Police Station arrived unannounced, seized the women, and confiscated their books.

The public prosecutor argued that Ms. Deng Ruzhu, Ms. Liu Fengmei, and Ms. Zhao Fengyuan had been sentenced on a previous arrest and were engaging in Falun Gong activities (again) when the police picked them up in July.

The practitioners emphasized that following their beliefs is not illegal and that they were innocent of any crime. They explained why they started to practice Falun Gong, that they had benefitted greatly from studying the teachings, and that Falun Gong taught people to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Two defense lawyers offered rebuttals to the procuratorate's charges by discrediting the legality of the arrest.

Prosecutor Slanders the Defendants

The public prosecutor depicted the Faun Gong practitioners as being deluded and under the influence of long-term mind control that made them anti-Party [Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] and anti-government; that after they lost both money and people's respect, they refused to support their parents or cherish their families and, therefore, should be punished.

One defense lawyer said, “Falun Gong practitioners, including the three women in this case, are being suppressed by the Party and its government for refusing to give up their practice and for insisting on doing good deeds and not doing anything that is not compatible with Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

“Falun Gong has never collected money or coerced others to believe in it. The three accused have demonstrated a strong will despite being misrepresented. They've worked hard to make a living, so saying that they lost both money and their reputations is not accurate.

“Ms. Zhao Fengyuan had many ailments and became healthy through practicing Falun Gong and raised her family by working at a cleaning job.

“Ms. Deng Ruzhu has problems with her eyesight and mobility; she had to use a wheelchair to come to court. But none of them have complained. They are kind and respect the court from the beginning to the end.”

Defense Lawyer Argues for Justice

The prosecutor asserted, “The state has listed Falun Gong as a cult, therefore, it is illegal to believe in Falun Gong or participate in its activities.”

A defense lawyer countered, “According to modern, civilized principles, the separation of politics and religion, and secular government and judicial power should not interfere with people’s thoughts and beliefs.

“What judicial power punishes good deeds? Thoughts have never constituted crimes. In this case, Deng Ruzhu and the other two were reading Falun Gong books in their own home, which presented no danger to society.

“A lawful trial should aim at specific behaviors and their harm to decide on a penalty, not people’s ideological convictions. Three Falun Gong practitioners reading books in a home causes no harm at all, so they haven't committed any crime.”

Illegal Behavior of Police

The defense also pointed out that, in this case, the investigation, search, and detention procedures were illegal. The law states that a citizen’s residence shall not be violated.

On the day of the incident, officers from the Domestic Security Division didn't wear their uniforms and didn't show documents or a search warrant. They broke into Ms. Deng Ruzhu’s home without any just cause. They violated the rules of criminal procedure, which constitutes an abuse of power.

The defense called for the cessation of judicial discrimination and unfair treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

During his defense, the lawyer also pointed out that, “Respect and protection of human rights is a proper construct in our country. In this case, officers from Mengzi City Domestic Security Division did not show their identification, had no legal justification for what they did, and followed no legal search procedures when they entered a Falun Gong practitioner's home without authorization.

“They arrested and wanted to sentence three Falun Gong practitioners because they found Falun Gong books on the table. Such behavior violates procedural and judicial codes.”

During the pretrial investigation, the defense lawyers were denied access to any evidence or interrogation records.

The defendants' lawyers claimed that all the evidence was therefore illegal and irrelevant.

Under questioning, the prosecutor argued that after the defense lawyers looked at copies of the files, the police had spent time correcting the defective evidence that was lacking signatures and stamps. He then asked the court to admit them as valid evidence.

In light of the dispute between the prosecutor and defense attorneys regarding the questionable validity of the evidence, the judges did not pronounce a verdict that day. They said they would make a judgment after the trial and choose a day to announce their findings.