Dandong Court Tries 11 Practitioners Amid Numerous Legal Violations
(Minghui.org) On a night in April 2015, 43 residents in Dandong, Liaoning Province were arrested in a raid targeting Falun Gong practitioners and their relatives. Of those arrested, 11 practitioners were tried. Under the direction of the Dandong Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) and “610 Office,” the municipal judicial system violated numerous legal procedures.
The trials took place at the Donggang Municipal Court in Dandong between December 7 and 15.
Under the communist regime, the PLAC is in charge of carrying out the suppression of Falun Gong. The 610 Office executes the orders of the PLAC. In carrying out this task, the PLAC directs the judiciary—court security, the Procuratorate, and the court itself.
The Dandong PLAC not only directed to judicial system to charge the practitioners, but it was also actively involved in the trials. It arranged for Party loyalists to sit in and observe the trials, and sent its own staff to monitor the entire proceeding.
Violations by Law Enforcement
Several police officers, on different occasions, told defendants' relatives that they were under orders of the Dandong PLAC and 610 Office. The April arrest warrants were issued after the PLAC and 610 Office coordinated the work of the Procuratorate and court.
Officers testified that Ms. Zhang Xiaoping was secretly stamping words on paper currency in the dark when they arrested her at her home. Actually, she was reading a book in her living room with the lights on.
A person who worked at the Procuratorate said that the whole arrest and trial proceedings were directed by the Dandong PLAC, and that the police, Procuratorate, and the court were just “following orders.”
The prosecutor tried to change the indictment in the middle of the trial of Mr. Zhang Xiaoping. She added another charge–“producing propaganda materials”–which referred to the fabricated evidence of stamping paper currency.
Violations by the Court
Four practitioners hired attorneys to defend them. Judges assigned to the cases would not allow the attorneys to make copies of case documents. They could only hand-write sections. When the attorneys pointed out that photocopying case documents is within their legal rights, Judge Li Xintian said, “This is our rule here. You can go wherever you want to sue us.”
Another judge rejected a visitation request by Ms. Lin Zhiyan's daughter, who came to defend her mother. He also told her that she was not allowed to make a “not guilty” plea.
The court only notified the practitioners' attorneys of the trials. No one else received notice, including even practitioners without attorneys.
The Dandong PLAC arranged government employees to sit in on the trial and issued them an “audit permit.” The municipal court denied anyone without the “audit permit,” including the defendant's family members, to enter the courtroom.
At the beginning of Mr. Zhang Wei's hearing, Judge Jin told his attorney that he was not allowed to make a “not guilty” defense for his client. When the attorney asked the reason, Jin said, “I don't have to explain 'why.' This is my decision.”
Mr. Sun Yongqin's attorney found that the prosecutor present at his client's hearing was not the prosecutor listed in the case documents. He requested the court to remove that prosecutor, but Judge Li Xintian denied his request.
During the trials, three attorneys were removed from the courtroom by judges. Mr. Zhang Wei's attorney was taken out for asserting that Falun Gong is not a cult as described by the communist regime's propaganda. Mr. Zhang Xiaoping's attorney and Ms. Chen Ying'e's attorney was removed for delineating the court's various legal violations.
Related report in Chinese: 辽宁东港市法院阻扰家属辩护