Six Falun Gong Practitioners and One Spouse Stand Trial
(Minghui.org) Six Falun Gong practitioners in Xichang City, Sichuan Province and one of their spouses appeared in Xichang City Court on May 28, 2020.
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. Huang Biao, Ms. Zhou Xianrong, her husband Mr. Pan (who does not practice Falun Gong), Ms. Xu Shaoqiong, Ms. Luo Mingchun, Ms. Yu Hongying, and Ms. Zhao Jun, were arrested in July and August 2019. It’s reported that the arrests were directed by the Sichuan Province Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) and the Provincial Public Security Bureau.
While most practitioners were represented by their lawyers, Ms. Luo’s lawyer, Cheng Hai, was denied his right to represent her by the Xichang City PLAC, an extrajudicial agency tasked with suppressing Falun Gong.
Lawyer Cheng has filed complaints against judges Jiang Tao and Wei Congming, as well as officials of Xichang City PLAC and 610 Office (an extralegal agency tasked with orchestrating the persecution together with the PLAC) for denying his representation of Ms. Luo. He said no law prohibits him from representing Ms. Luo, a Falun Gong practitioner.
“Given the current political system in China, the judges should treat the defender more fairly and listen to our opinion, so as to prevent any unjust or wrongful ruling. This case is an obvious wrongful case with falsified charges. It’s obvious that [the judges] didn’t want to hear my not-guilty defense for my client, so that they can successfully close the case and cover up the wrongful accusations made by the prosecutor. Judges and government officials are mandated to strictly follow the law, and those who violate it should bear legal consequences.” lawyer Cheng said in his complaint letter.
In addition to lawyer Cheng, many of the practitioners’ friends were also barred from attending the supposedly public hearing.
Before the hearing started at 10 a.m., the lawyers noticed that no sound came from the microphones in front of them. They asked to have the batteries changed, but their request was denied by the court staff. The microphones in front of the judge and the prosecutor, on the other hand, worked fine. The lawyers had to shout throughout the hearing. Given the size of the courtroom, most of the practitioners’ family members sitting in the back couldn’t hear the lawyers’ defense clearly.
The police kept Mr. Yu, Ms. Zhou, Ms. Xu and Ms. Luo handcuffed and shackled during the hearing. Their handcuffs and shackles were chained together. Ms. Luo exhibited a medical condition.
Judge Interrupts Lawyers’ Defense
When Mr. Huang’s lawyer asked Mr. Huang questions about the case, presiding judge Sha Kaixian interrupted him and said he shouldn’t ask questions like that. The lawyer wasn’t allowed to ask his client any more questions.
Mr. Huang’s lawyer then asked the judge why he hadn’t received any updates about the motion he filed earlier to have the case dropped. The judge replied, “You can’t mention this in court.”
Mr. Huang’s lawyer next argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that there wasn’t any legal basis for the prosecution of practitioners for their faith. He said the accusation against his client was a result of political persecution.
As the lawyer was talking, five bailiffs surrounded him and reprimanded him for violating court procedure. They issued another warning to the lawyer before stopping him and demanding to check his ID and lawyer’s license, although the documents had already been verified before the session started. At the same time, the presiding judge said to another judge sitting next to him, “Let’s revoke his qualification of representation” before adjourning the hearing for recess.
During recess, Ms. Xu’s lawyer asked the presiding judge to stop mistreating defense lawyers. The presiding judge rushed over, pointed at the lawyer’s face, and tried to beat him. Another judge immediately turned off the lights in the courtroom.
The presiding judge resumed the hearing at 1:30 p.m., and Mr. Huang’s lawyer was allowed to continue defending him.
Practitioners Testify in Own Defense
In the afternoon portion of the hearing, several practitioners testified in their own defense.
Mr. Huang said he had benefited mentally and physically from practicing Falun Gong and that the practice gave him the strength to care for his bedridden wife for ten years. He said the Falun Gong books and related materials confiscated from his home were his personal property and had nothing to do with his charge of “undermining law enforcement,” the standard pretext used by Chinese authorities to charge Falun Gong practitioners.
Ms. Zhou testified how practicing Falun Gong cured her many ailments. As she was only halfway through her statement, the judge stopped her and didn’t allow her to speak anymore.
When Ms. Luo talked about the benefits of practicing Falun Gong, the judge ordered to have her removed from the courtroom for a period of time, with the stated reason that her answer had nothing to do with the question he had asked her.
Ms. Xu, a young elementary school teacher, said police officer Wang Dongbo tried to ask her to spy on other practitioners, but she refused. She asked to have Wang appear in court to accept cross-examination, but the judge didn’t approve her request.
At the end of the hearing, a court staff member said that they would report the proceedings to provincial officials. The lawyers suspected the Sichuan Province PLAC that orchestrated the practitioners’ arrests was still behind the court hearing and possible sentencing of their clients.