Woman, 80, Faces 4-Year Prison Term After Wrongful Conviction for Practicing Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) After an intermediate court upheld a four-year prison sentence against an 80-year-old Falun Gong practitioner in Beijing, authorities are now attempting to send her to prison to serve time.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Sun Zhongfang was arrested at home on May 8, 2018 while studying teachings of Falun Gong with six other practitioners (four of them were in their 80s).
The police ransacked Ms. Sun's home and took the seven practitioners to the local police station. No list of confiscated items was provided to Ms. Sun's family.
The seven practitioners were interrogated at the police station until 3:00 a.m. Six of them, including Ms. Sun, were released in the morning.
The police attempted to hold the youngest practitioner, Ms. Zhang Shuhua, 68, for another 15 days under administrative detention, but had to release her later that day, after the detention center rejected her admission due to health issues.
Prosecutor Zhang Chi and Liu Jiao summoned Ms. Sun to the Fengtai District Procuratorate on September 26, 2018, and asked whether she had organized the study group. She refused to answer.
Hu Chunsheng, a judge at Fengtai District Court, visited Ms. Sun at home on October 9 and left her a copy of the indictment filed by the prosecutor. Hu told Ms. Sun that they were planning to hold a hearing of her at her home on November 1.
While reading the indictment, Ms. Sun found that the prosecutors had mistakenly cited her as a “repeat offender” who was given two years of forced labor in 2005, and detained for 15 days in 2008 – both of which never happened. She protested to the prosecutors and the judge, but they never responded.
A court staff member called Ms. Sun on October 31 to confirm the hearing at her home at 4:00 p.m. the next day.
Judge Hu, a court clerk surnamed Ma, prosecutors Zhang and Liu, two staff members from the Fengtai District 610 Office, and a bailiff showed up at Ms. Sun’s home on November 1 at 2:00 p.m., two hours before their scheduled time.
Prosecutor Zhang first read the fabricated indictment, which even had Ms. Sun’s birth date listed incorrectly. A document provided by the 610 Office that contained propaganda information about Falun Gong was used by the prosecutor as evidence to charge Ms. Sun.
Judge Hu didn't allow Ms. Sun to read her prepared defense script, but asked her to submit a written copy and then wait at home for the verdict.
Hu returned to Ms. Sun's home on December 28, 2018 and announced that she had been sentenced to a 4-year prison term.
Ms. Sun appealed the verdict to the Beijing Intermediate Court. A judge surnamed Wang visited her at home on February 28, 2019 and asked her some questions about the trial court hearing. Wang also asked whether Ms. Sun wanted the court to appoint a lawyer to represent her, and she agreed.
The court-appointed lawyer visited Ms. Sun a few days later. He refused to enter a not-guilty plea for her and said it's against the court's policy to do so.
Ms. Sun dismissed the lawyer and demanded to hire a lawyer on her own. The judge at the intermediate court rejected her request and said she had run out of time to do that.
Judge Hu from the lower court returned to Ms. Sun's home on April 10, 2019 and announced that the intermediate court had ruled to uphold her sentence.
Hu urged Ms. Sun to cooperate with him and undergo a physical checkup. He said he would come back in one week to check on the results – probably in preparation to send Ms. Sun to prison to serve time.