Judge Upholds Falun Gong Practitioner’s Prison Sentence After Failing to Have Defense Lawyer Dismissed
(Minghui.org) The judge of an appeals court in Changchun City, Jilin Province recently upheld the five-year prison sentence for a Falun Gong practitioner without holding a hearing as required by law. Prior to his ruling, the judge had attempted, unsuccessfully, to force the practitioner to dismiss his lawyer.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
According to Mr. Li Shaozhi's lawyer who visited him at Changchun City Third Detention Center on August 1, 2019, judge He Fu from Changchun City Intermediate Court threatened to arrest his wife and her friend should he refuse to terminate his lawyer.
Mr. Li said the judge showed him a still image taken from a surveillance video showing his wife and her driver friend exiting their car to enter the detention center to visit him months earlier.
Mr. Li refused to comply. The judge soon announced upholding his prison sentence without having a hearing.
Prior to attempting to force Mr. Li to dismiss the lawyer, the judge had also blocked the lawyer from reviewing his case documents.
Mr. Li's lawyer said he went to Changchun City Intermediate Court on June 12, 2019 and was given an electronic copy of Mr. Li's case document by Judge He.
But the lawyer soon realized that the document was password protected. He called the judge and asked for the password. The judge said he didn't know it, and refused to mail the document to the lawyer, with the excuse that the file was highly confidential.
The judge suggested that the lawyer find a fellow lawyer in Changchun to review the case document in the courthouse for him. The lawyer questioned how the judge would allow another lawyer who didn't have Mr. Li's power of attorney to review his case without violating confidentiality. The judge didn't respond to the question and refused to allow the lawyer to come and review the case document himself.
Heilongjiang Resident Arrested by Police in Adjacent Jilin Police
Mr. Li, in his fifties, was arrested at his apartment in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province on September 22, 2017 by several police officers from Changchun, Jilin Province (about 170 miles away).
The police suspected him of buying cellphone SIM cards for another practitioner in Jilin Province, to make phone calls to the public to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong.
Mr. Li appeared in Nanguan District Court in Changchun on November 16, 2018 and was convicted on May 10, 2019.
Prior to his latest imprisonment, Mr. Li served another five years in prison between 2006 and 2011, also for practicing Falun Gong.