Court Secretly Upholds Woman’s Sentence for Her Faith and Orders Bank to Freeze Her Account in Attempt to Collect Fine
(Minghui.org) After Ms. Zhou Xiuzhi appealed her prison sentence for practicing Falun Gong, her local intermediate court secretly upheld the sentence and ordered her bank to freeze her account, in an attempt to force her family to pay the fine levied on her.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Zhou and her husband, Mr. Wang Enguo, of Changchun City, Jilin Province, were both arrested during a police sweep of local Falun Gong practitioners on October 12, 2018. Their two children, one still in middle school, were left at home with no financial support.
While Mr. Wang was released on August 22, 2019, Ms. Zhou was still held in custody.
After Ms. Zhou was indicted, the Chaoyang District Court judge insisted on having two court-appointed lawyers represent her. The two court-appointed lawyers refused to enter a not guilty plea for her, citing an order from above.
Meanwhile, the lawyer that Ms. Zhou’s family had hired for her was blocked by the judge from reviewing her case documents, and the local detention center denied meetings with her. When Ms. Zhou appeared in court on June 14, 2019, her own lawyer wasn’t allowed to attend.
Ms. Zhou was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months with a 10,000-yuan fine on October 30, 2019. After she appealed to the Changchun Intermediate Court, her family called the higher court judge many times trying to seek justice for her, but to no avail. When the judge finally answered the call from Ms. Zhou’s lawyer, he implied that there was no use for her to appeal the case, as the result would be the same.
On May 10, 2020, Ms. Zhou’s family received a letter from the trial court urging them to pay her fine. When they contacted Wang Qiang, the clerk at the trial court who'd sent the letter, Wang said that the trial court had been notified that the appeals court had rejected Ms. Zhou's appeal. When her family questioned why they had not received any notice, Wang replied that he was only responsible for collecting the fine and that they should talk to the appeals court judge themselves. When they called the judge, no one ever answered the call.
Ms. Zhou’s family soon found out that her bank account had been frozen without their knowledge. When they inquired about it, they were only told that everything had been done according to the law.