(Minghui.org) A 70-year-old man in Yi County has gone into hiding in an effort to avoid being jailed for his faith. His family is calling for the local authorities to drop the case against him so he can return home without fear of arrest.

Mr. Zhuo Guibin has been repeatedly arrested for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. He was twice given forced labor for a total of six years and brutally tortured while in detention.

His latest arrest took place on September 26, 2017, and he appeared in court on December 22. The presiding judge sentenced him to prison (although the length of the sentence remains to be investigated) and submitted the verdict to the local higher court for approval.

The higher court ordered a second hearing to modify the verdict. When he heard about the decision, Mr. Zhuo, a former manager with the Yi County Light Industry Bureau, left home to avoid further prosecution.

Latest Arrest and Subsequent Force-feeding

Mr. Zhuo was arrested at the Quyang County Bus Station on September 26, 2017. Agents from Yi County, Baoding City, and Quyang County were involved in the arrest. They had been tracking him using GPS technology for months before the arrest.

The taxi driver who dropped Mr. Zhuo off was also arrested, but he was later released when the police found out he was not a Falun Gong practitioner.

The police confiscated 2,500 calendars, more than 600 yuan in paper currency, and 4 flash drives from Mr. Zhuo. The calendars and currency had Falun Gong messages printed on them and the flash drives also contained Falun Gong information.

A deputy chief of Yi County Police Department and chief Guo of Yizhou Town Police Station took Mr. Zhuo back to Yizhou Town Police Station that afternoon. He was interrogated for several hours before being taken to Yi County Detention Center.

Mr. Zhuo went on a hunger strike to protest the illegal detention, since no law in China says practicing Falun Gong is a crime. He was driven to a local hospital to be force-fed on the fourth day. A witness saw his hands cuffed behind his back. He firmly refused to be force-fed, and the police took him back to the detention center.

The police tried again the following day. The doctors force-fed him porridge and left the tube in his nostril. His hands were cuffed and his feet shackled. He wasn't able to move.

About 20 days later, his right leg and hand began to show symptoms of a blood clot. He couldn't walk or hold anything. The doctors said he had high blood pressure. That night, the detention center director persuaded prosecutor Wang Guoping to approve his request for bail.

Mr. Zhuo's daughter picked him up the following morning, and two officers showed up at their home hours later to photograph and videotape him.

Presumed Guilty

Mr. Zhuo's case was submitted to the local procuratorate 10 days after his arrest. Tian Guojun, head of Yi County domestic security office, included as prosecution evidence parts of confessions extracted from several other local practitioners back in 2008.

Mr. Zhuo's son wheeled him into the courtroom on December 22, 2017. He hadn't yet recovered from his blood clot and high blood pressure.

As soon as the hearing began, assistant judge Liang asked Mr. Zhuo, “Do you admit you are guilty?”

Mr. Zhuo said no and shook his head in denial as prosecutor Wang Guoping proceeded to read aloud the indictment against him.

Even though he struggled to speak clearly due to his condition, Mr. Zhuo managed to say, “I'm entitled to freedom of belief! It's legal for me to follow my spiritual faith!”

Judge Liang demanded that Mr. Zhuo write a statement promising that he'd never purchase printing equipment for local Falun Gong practitioners to produce Falun Gong materials again. Presiding judge Sun Chunmei threatened to send him back to the detention center if he refused to comply.

A clerk held his hand to press his fingerprints on the court proceedings.

Forced to Go Into Hiding

Judge Sun submitted a preliminary ruling to the Baoding City Intermediate Court in April 2018. It is unclear what the proposed prison sentence was.

The higher court ordered a second hearing to modify the verdict. Mr. Zhuo left home before the new hearing took place.

Prior Arrests

Mr. Zhuo's family is extremely worried about his wellbeing and does not know where he is. His latest ordeal stirred up their memories of what he suffered in the past for his faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Zhuo was first arrested not long after the persecution began in July 1999. He was given 3 years of forced labor and sent to Tangshan Forced Labor Camp on September 23, 2001. That day, guard Liu Weidong hit him on the head with a bottle full of water. The next day, Liu beat him on the head and buttocks with a wooden plank for half an hour. Hours later, Liu and guard Zhang Jianzhong shocked Mr. Zhuo's head, armpits, mouth, and abdomen with electric batons for more than 40 minutes.

The local police learned of Mr. Zhuo's plan to visit a relative in Xinjiang Province on February 16, 2003, after tapping his brother's phone. They arrested him at the airport two days later and detained him for 4 days. His brother was forced to pay 7,000 yuan in exchange for his release. The police threatened the brothers to not publicize the arrest on Minghui.org.

Mr. Zhuo was arrested a third time on June 3, 2004. Fifteen days later, he was driven to Baoding City Forced Labor Camp. Only then was he informed that he had been given another three years of forced labor. He went on a hunger strike for 18 days and was released on July 8, 2004.

A group of agents broke into his home at 11 p.m. on October 16, 2007, waking up and terrifying his family. He was not home at the time and escaped arrest.

The police came for him again on October 7, 2011, and confiscated from his home one laptop, one camera, three cell phones, more than 100 calling cards, and more than 8,000 yuan in cash.