(Minghui.org) At the Haigang District Court on April 30, the attorney defending Falun Gong practitioner Lian Baochang testified that his client had been tortured during interrogation by public security officials.

The attorney stated, “This is a human rights issue. This is a matter every Chinese person should be concerned about, because every one of us here may be investigated and thus tortured for a confession.”

Coordinated Arrests and Property Seizure

Lian and six others were arrested on June 10, 2013 when more than twenty police officers stormed his vehicle while it was stopped at a tollbooth. All those arrested were practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline targeted for violent persecution by the Chinese regime since 1999.

They learned that agents from the Qinhuangdao Domestic Security Division and the Public Security Bureau had been monitoring the practitioners' location data via their cellular phones for two months prior to the raid.

The six-hour trial on April 30, 2014 was attended by Lian Baochang's family members and personnel from the 610 Office and the Public Security Bureau.

Lian's attorney argued that his client should be acquitted because Chinese law allows for freedom of belief and freedom of speech, there are no grounds to claim that practicing Falun Gong is illegal in China, and that his client did not violate any laws.

Lian testified that he gained better health and spiritual well-being after practicing Falun Gong and that the practice led him to improve his moral standard and allowed him to better serve his community.

In addition to allegations of torture, Lian accused officers of stealing 100,000 yuan of cash from his vehicle during the raid. However, the presiding Judge Zhang Shuxia dismissed the allegation of theft, citing a lack of evidence and witnesses.

Including ten other practitioners whose homes were raided on the same night on June 10, a total of 3,000,000 yuan in cash and six vehicles were taken away by the police. A total of 17 practitioners were arrested and sent to the No. 1 Detention Center of Qinhuangdao.

Forced Confessions

At the detention center, a Domestic Security Division captain, Fu Xiaobing, and a counselor, Zhang Aimin, took turns interrogating the seventeen practitioners arrested that day.

A month later, Lian Baochang was moved to an interrogation room in the city's Public Security Bureau, where Captain Fu beat Lian’s face and struck the back of Lian's head repeatedly using his elbow. As a result, Lian was not able to see clearly and often felt dizzy.

Another Domestic Security captain shouted, “Hang him up and beat him if you need to!” Two guards took turns interrogating Lian, deprived him of sleep and toilet facilities, continued to torture him for 29 hours, and forced him to sign a fabricated statement incriminating himself.

In a similar fashion, Captain Fu and Public Security officers put together “confessions” for the other sixteen practitioners and forwarded the files to the Qinhuangdao Haigang District Procuratorate and the Haigang District Court.

Public Stands Against the Persecution

As of January 10, 2014, 16 out of the 17 practitioners were still detained at the No. 1 Detention Center of Qinhuangdao. A petition calling for their release circulated in Qinhuangdao had garnered 4,984 signatures. (China: 4984 People Sign a Petition to Demand the Release of 16 Detained Practitioners)

Two of the attorneys defending these practitioners were denied access to their clients' case files and held a banner in protest in front of the Haigang District Procuratorate. (Chinese Attorneys Protest Judicial Violations)