(Minghui.org) Four women in Huili County, Sichuan Province, filed a motion to reconsider their wrongful prison sentences for practicing Falun Gong. They demanded acquittal when the case was heard by the Liangshanzhou Intermediate Court on November 2, 2021.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The four women’s lawyers argued that no law has ever criminalized Falun Gong in China. One lawyer stated that the purported photos of evidence he saw in the practitioners’ case document at the Huili County Court were different from what was shown by judge He Guilin of the Liangshanzhou Intermediate Court.
Judge He presented a bag, which the police claimed to be carried by the practitioners while they distributed Falun Gong informational materials. But the lawyers and practitioners said that was not their bag.
One prosecution witness named He Xiaomao claimed that she received a book about 1 or 2 centimeters thick from the practitioners. According to the prosecutor, the practitioners distributed 738 copies of the book, averaging 150 copies for each practitioner (a fifth practitioner arrested with the other four passed away before the hearing). It means that the 150 copies of the book would be between 1.5 and 3 meters (or 5 to 10 feet) high, which would be simply impossible for the elderly women to carry around by themselves.
The lawyers urged the judge to acquit the practitioners and allow them to go free.
Original Sentences and Appeals
The four practitioners, Ms. Zheng Qiong, Ms. Luo Jiping, Ms. Ma Lingxian, and Ms. Dong Xiuqiong, were arrested on January 30, 2016 for distributing Falun Gong informational materials. A fifth practitioner, Ms. Shen Jiafeng, who was with them, was also arrested.
All five practitioners were convicted by the Huili County Court on December 29, 2016. Ms. Ma was sentenced to one year and four months; Ms. Luo, Ms. Song, and Ms. Zheng were each sentenced to one year; and Ms. Shen was given one year with one year probation.
After the practitioners appealed the verdicts, the Liangshanzhou Intermediate Court dismissed the original sentences and ordered a retrial by the lower court on May 8, 2017. The Huili County Court held four hearings, on November 17, 2017, October 26, November 29, and December 25, 2018, before sentencing the practitioners to the same terms on May 24, 2019.
Ms. Shen developed symptoms of diabetes in the detention center and was given an unusually large amount of drugs. She gradually became paralyzed and was carried into the courtroom during the hearings. She passed away on January 31, 2019, shortly after being released.
The four surviving practitioners appealed the sentences again after the lower court handed down the same prison terms. By the time the Liangshanzhou Intermediate Court heard their appeal cases on August 11, 2020, four and a half years had passed since the practitioners were arrested.
After the intermediate court ruled to uphold the practitioners’ prison sentences, they filed a joint motion with the same immediate court to reconsider their case in early 2021. The motion was docketed in September 2021 and a hearing was held on November 2.
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