(Minghui.org) Mr. Zhang Mengjie, a 64-year-old Falun Gong practitioner, was seized by domestic security officers from Qiaodong Police Department in Xingtai City, Hebei Province, on September 26, 2016. He has been detained in Xingtai No.1 Detention Center for almost two years.
Mr. Zhang was tried in the Qiaodong Court on November 8, 2017. He was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 20,000 yuan for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. Both Mr. Zhang and his family member appealed to Xingtai Intermediate Court.
Another trial was held at the Xingtai Intermediate Court on March 30, 2018. Presiding judge Wang Yichao, other judges Wang Weitao and Hu Lipeng, and the prosecutor Zhang Yunfeng from Xingtai Procuratorate were present.
Local practitioners arrived early in the morning. They held out their IDs requesting to attend the trial. The judge allowed ten people, including Mr. Zhang’s immediate family, relatives, and several practitioners, to attend.
The prosecutor listed the items confiscated from Mr. Zhang’s home, alleging that he had violated Article No. 300 of the Criminal Law. He accused Mr. Zhang of producing and disseminating Falun Gong materials.
The defense argued that it was perfectly legal to practice Falun Gong ever since the Press and Publication Administration issued the No. 50 regulation, abolishing its fifth batch of normative documents. By law, therefore, all Falun Gong books and materials were legal regardless of how many Falun Gong materials were confiscated from Mr. Zhang’s home.
The attorney also noted that Mr. Zhang had been wrongfully arrested and was detained in a brainwashing center for 43 days and that his sentence and fine had no legal basis.
The attorney read Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which China is a part. He said that freedom of belief under the Declaration includes the freedom to circulate and produce information.
From the legal perspective, there was no evidence that his client had produced the confiscated Falun Gong materials.
Mr. Zhang defended himself in court, as well. He said that he has lived by Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance since becoming a practitioner of Falun Gong and that he should be released instantly.
He asked, “Which law or regulation can you show me that prohibits practicing Falun Gong? I need to see the proof.”
None of the judges had a reply even after Mr. Zhang questioned them several times.
Mr. Zhang’s daughter also defended her father. She said that he quit his bad habits, such as smoking and drinking, after he began the practice. He became a good father, a good husband, and a good son but was sentenced to five years in prison.
The atmosphere in court was positive since the attorney and Mr. Zhang made a strong defense. When the attorney pleaded innocent on behalf of his client, the judges were attentive.
When the presiding judge stopped the attorney from speaking further, he seemed sympathetic. “Now, the responsibility for each case is lifelong,” he said. “Officials have to bear the responsibility for their decisions forever. You should not wrongly sentence a good person.”
The presiding judge said that the verdict would be announced later.
Parties involved in persecuting Mr. Zhang Mengjie: Xingtai Intermediate CourtBai Feng (白峰), Party secretary and dean: 86-319-2236001Chen Baoli (陈保利), deputy Party secretary and deputy dean: 86-319-2236008, 86-17703390008Liu Mengyin (刘孟印), deputy Party secretary and deputy dean: 86-319-2236006, 86-17703390006, 86-13931923297