Lawyers Refute Questionable Evidence Used to Convict Falun Gong Practitioner
(Minghui.org) The lawyers representing a Guiyang City resident argued against the prosecution evidence used by the trial court to convict him and demanded his four-year prison sentence be overturned.
Mr. Chen Xianzhong, 72, was arrested with a dozen Falun Gong practitioners at his home while they were studying Falun Gong books together on January 8, 2017. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Chen was released on bail 12 days later but was taken back into custody on May 24, 2017. Two hearings were held in the Nanming District Court between June and August 2018, and he was sentenced to four years in prison on September 26. He filed an appeal with the Guiyang City Intermediate Court, which heard his case on December 5.
During that hearing, the prosecutor cited the same evidence used in the initial trial—that Mr. Chen owned Falun Gong books and used four cell phones to send 139 audio and video clips containing Falun Gong information.
The lawyers countered that no prosecution witness was ever called to the stand during the initial trial to accept cross-examination nor were any of the 139 clips played in court. They noted that, again, no prosecution witnesses were present and none of the clips had been shown.
The lawyers also argued that the police violated legal procedures and possibly forced Mr. Chen's wife's confession. She admitted she had seen the alleged messages on his cellphones.
The presiding judge frequently interrupted the lawyers and Mr. Chen whenever they mentioned Falun Gong in their defense. He adjourned the hearing without announcing a decision.
139 Audio and Video Clips
The prosecutor accused Mr. Chen of sending 139 Falun Gong-related audio and video files on social media through four cellphones during both his initial trial and the appeal hearing.
One of Mr. Chen's lawyers said that he had seen the police use popular music videos as evidence to charge other Falun Gong practitioners when he represented them in the past.
He argued that the video clips should be inadmissible since the prosecutor repeatedly refused to play the alleged videos.
The judge rejected his request and said that the police had followed proper legal procedures in obtaining the evidence and that it was valid.
Testimony by Mr. Chen's Wife Uncorroborated
The police also presented an interrogation record used during his earlier hearings in which Mr. Chen's wife admitted seeing Falun Gong-related information on his cellphones.
Mr. Chen's lawyers raised questions regarding how the police obtained her testimony during the appeal hearing.
First of all, the lawyers said, the police didn't read what they wrote in the interrogation record to her or have her confirm the contents before telling her to sign it, so it was possible that the police had added fabricated content.
Secondly, the lawyers pointed out that Chinese criminal law requires at least two officers be present during an interrogation, but the record submitted by the police contained the signature of only one officer. That meant the record of her interrogation wasn't legally admissible as evidence to charge her husband.
The lawyers said that they couldn't rule out the possibility that the police had obtained a “confession” from Mr. Chen's wife through intimidation and coercion. They asked the judge three times to have her testify in person since she was waiting outside the courtroom, but the judge refused to summon her.