Six Jilin Residents Tried for Practicing Falun Gong, Due Process Denied
(Minghui.org) Six Falun Gong practitioners were tried by the Shulan Court on May 21 and 22, 2019 for not renouncing their faith, a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. Falun Gong has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. Due process was not followed in the lead up to the trial or in the trial itself, and the practitioners' lawyers were pressured by court personnel to drop the case.
The six practitioners, residents of Shulan City, Jilin Province, were seized from their homes as part of a group arrest of twelve on the evening of July 18, 2018.
Although six practitioners were released shortly after their arrests, Mr. Wang Zhigang, Mr. Xu Hongyu, Ms. Li Fengling, Ms. Li Fengjuan, Mr. Sun Zhongwei, and Ms. Qu Xiumin remained in custody. They were indicted by the Shulan Procuratorate after the prosecutor returned the cases to the police three times due to insufficient evidence.
According to Chinese criminal law, the prosecutor can return a case to the police for additional evidence two times at most. If the prosecutor still believes that the evidence isn't enough to indict the suspect after the police submit the case for the third time, normal procedure would be to dismiss the charges and release the suspect.
But in the case of the six practitioners, instead of being released, the prosecutor formally charged them and forwarded their cases to the court upon the police's fourth attempt.
Prior to the hearing, agents from the 610 Office and court staff attempted to block the practitioners' lawyers from representing and defending them in court.
After the lawyers stood their ground and entered a not guilty plea for the practitioners, the judge frequently interrupted their defense throughout the hearing.
During the trial, only two family members of each practitioner were allowed to attend. Family members who practice Falun Gong themselves were barred from the courtroom.
Mr. Wang was handcuffed and shackled during the hearing. He trembled uncontrollably throughout the proceedings.
Both Mr. Wang and Mr. Xu said that the police had interrogated them under violence and forced them to make “confessions.” But their request to view the videos taken by surveillance camera during the interrogation was rejected by the judge.
The practitioners also testified in their own defense. They each credited Falun Gong for improving their character and enabling them to be better husbands, wives, or sons/daughters.
Mr. Xu testified that Falun Gong benefits society by improving people's health and character. He himself began to practice Falun Gong after witnessing the changes in his ailing mother, who became healthy soon after taking up the practice. He also discussed how he and several other local practitioners often cleared the road for villagers after snowstorms and used their own money to fix the roads and bridges in their village.
Mr. Xu argued that everyone has freedom of belief and it is one's personal decision to practice Falun Gong and that no one should be prosecuted for their belief.