(Minghui.org) Three Shenzhen City residents were put on trial for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a mind-body practice being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. Their lawyers defended their constitutional right to freedom of belief and to practice Falun Gong.

The three practitioners, Mr. Yang Bo, his wife Ms. Xiao Yin, and Ms. Dou Jun, were tried in the Nanshan District Court on August 9, 2018. The lawyers argued that there is no law in China that criminalizes Falun Gong and that the persecution of the practice has been illegal from the outset.

One lawyer pointed out that the police violated legal procedures by searching the three practitioners' homes without the practitioners being present. The police were also alleged to have read certain documents to the practitioners during interrogation sessions, but the interrogation records bore no dates, only a time of day. Lastly, the police used unqualified forensic professionals to issue opinions on prosecution evidence. By law, only forensic professionals who have worked in the field for at least five years are allowed to verify prosecution evidence in criminal cases.

The lawyer requested that judge Zhang Guohui open an investigation of the police violations of legal procedures. After Zhang didn't answer the lawyer in court, the lawyer reiterated his request during recess, and Zhang admitted that it would be problematic if the police were indeed found to have violated legal procedures. Zhang, however, didn't say whether he would open an investigation.

The three practitioners also spoke in their own defense. Judge Zhang had no answer when Mr. Yang questioned what law he and other practitioners were accused of violating. Ms. Xiao went on to share how Falun Gong had turned her into a better and healthier person.

The hearing lasted for five hours, and judge Zhang adjourned the session without announcing a verdict.

The three practitioners remain in detention following their arrest on October 7, 2017. Shortly after making the arrest, police threatened Ms. Dou's landlord, who in turn tried to force her and her son to move out before their lease expired.

Mr. Yang and Ms. Xiao's 13-year-old daughter was interrogated for several hours at the local police station after her parents were arrested. Mr. Yang's mother developed stroke symptoms after her son and daughter-in-law were arrested. She was unable to eat for several days after attending the court hearing and noticing that her son appeared emaciated and pale.

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