(Minghui.org) Four Falun Gong practitioners were tried on September 23, 2016 on charges of “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners. Their lawyers entered not guilty pleas for them and demanded their acquittal.

The lawyers argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong, and their clients should never have been prosecuted for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief. The lawyers also pointed out that the Falun Gong materials confiscated from the practitioners were their lawful possessions, which caused no harm to anyone, much less undermine law enforcement.

Judge Cao Sichong admitted to the lawyers that there was no legal basis to charge the practitioners for upholding their faith, but instead of issuing an acquittal, Cao submitted the case to Hubei Province Superior Court. According to the lawyers, the judge should have been able to issue a verdict. They suspect that Cao dared not set the practitioners free due to pressure from higher-ups.

At the time of this report, practitioners Mr. Peng Yaxin and Mr. Zhang Guangjie are still detained, although it has been nearly six months since they were first tried.

Arrest and Initial Hearing

Mr. Peng and Mr. Zhang, along with two other practitioners, Ms. Fu Chuanying and Ms. He Shifeng, were arrested on their way home while riding in Mr. Peng's car. The car was confiscated, as well as Falun Gong informational materials and other belongings.

A few days later, Ms. Fu and Ms. He were released on bail while Mr. Peng and Mr. Zhang continued to be detained separately. They were each fined 1,000 yuan.

A trial was first set on September 9. Many local practitioners heard about the trial and gathered at the courthouse that morning to show their support. The authorities decided to cancel the trial minutes before it started. Meanwhile, 25 of them were arrested.

Second Hearing

The trial was rescheduled for September 23, and only one family member of each of the four practitioners was allowed to attend the hearing. The rest of the trial attendees were personnel from law enforcement, including Dai Feifei, the deputy director of the Shayang County police department that arrested the practitioners.

The trial began in the morning and lasted five hours.

The defense lawyers pleaded not guilty for their clients and presented their arguments. When the hearing adjourned, the judge announced that Ms. Fu and Ms. He were free to go, while Mr. Peng and Mr. Zhang would continued to be detained.

After the hearing was over, Judge Cao spoke with the defense lawyers and acknowledged that there is no law in China that criminalizes Falun Gong. The prosecutor commended the lawyers for their well-prepared arguments and also admitted that there were problems with the case.

A month after the hearing, family members of the detained practitioners checked on the status of the case, and were informed by Cao that the case had been submitted to higher authorities. A recent inquiry found that the case is now with the Hubei Province Superior Court.

Parties involved in the persecution of Mr. Peng and Mr. Zhang:

Wu Zehua, chief of Shayang procuratorate: +86-7248568250Li Wei, head of Jingmen 610 office: +86-7242372013 (O), +86-13886909205 (C)Wang Ming, president of Shayang County court: +86-13807261696Dai Feifei, deputy director of Shayang County police department: +86-13774061712

(More participants in the persecution contact information is available in the original Chinese article.)

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