(Minghui.org) A family of three were arrested in 2019 for their shared spiritual belief in Falun Gong. While the wife and daughter were later released, the husband has remained in custody and went through two court hearings for his case. The police arrested the wife and daughter again days after his first hearing. The wife is still detained now, and the daughter was denied attendance to her father’s second hearing.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Du Jingyi is a lawyer in his 60s in Changchun City, Jilin Province. He took up Falun Gong in 1996 and credits the practice with curing his many ailments.

Around 4 a.m. on September 9, 2019, two police cars showed up outside of Mr. Du’s apartment building. The officers arrested Mr. Du when he went out to buy groceries at around 6 a.m. The officers took his keys and ransacked his home. More than 300 Falun Gong books, photo of Falun Gong’s founder, and more than 100,000 yuan in cash were confiscated (50,000 yuan of the cash has been returned at the family’s request). Mr. Du’s wife, Ms. Cui Yuqiu, and their daughter, Ms. Du Xin, were also arrested.

Although Mr. Du’s wife and daughter were released at around 11 p.m. that day, he was held at the Yihelu Police Station overnight and transferred to the Changchun City No.2 Detention Center on the next day. He was once hospitalized for developing scabies due to the unsanitary conditions in his cell.

When Mr. Du’s lawyer met with him on December 10, 2019, Mr. Du told him that he has been indicted and the prosecutor has submitted his case to the Chaoyang District Court.

Mr. Du had his first hearing on July 13, 2020 via video conference. The presiding judge, Jiang Hui, adjourned the hearing upon learning that the lawyer didn’t have a reference letter from his local justice bureau, which wasn’t required by law for the lawyer to represent his client in court. Judge Jiang demanded the lawyer provide the letter in the next hearing and ordered that the lawyer enter a guilty plea for Mr. Du.

Given the judge’s unlawful request, Mr. Du’s family decided to dismiss the lawyer and let Mr. Du be his own lawyer.

Two days after Mr. Du’s hearing, the police broke into his home and arrested his wife and daughter again. While Ms. Du was released after 13 days of detention, Ms. Cui is still detained at Changchun City No.4 Detention Center.

Mr. Du's second hearing was held on September 28. Another judge, Zhang Dan, barred his daughter from attending the hearing, with the excuse that she was listed as a witness to his case. When Ms. Du went out to look for a family member to attend the hearing for her, the judge started the proceeding and refused to let Mr. Du’s relative to enter the courtroom.

Mr. Du’s family demanded to meet with the presiding judge, Wang Yanan, after the hearing, but was turned away. They learned from a court staff member that the second hearing was also conducted through a video conference and Mr. Du entered a not guilty plea for himself.