(Minghui.org) Since 2017, presiding judge Li Zhiyong and deputy presiding judge Chen Hongqiang of Gaoyang County Court in Baoding City, Hebei Province, have sentenced 17 Falun Gong practitioners to prison.
After the Chinese Communist Party launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline, in July 1999, wrongful sentencing and imprisonment have become one of the major tactics used by the authorities to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.
The Gaoyang County Court and Gaoyang County Procuratorate are one of the three court-procuratorate pairs selected by the authorities in Baoding City to handle all Falun Gong cases in the Baoding metropolitan area and nearby counties since 2017. The other two pairs are Shunping County Procuratorate/Court and Zhuozhou City Procuratorate/Court. The procuratorates are responsible for filing indictments and the courts are in charge of handing out prison sentences against Falun Gong practitioners.
More specifically, the Gaoyang County Procuratorate and Gaoyang County Court have been assigned to handle cases in Anguo City, Li County and Gaoyang County.
Four of the sentenced practitioners, including Ms. Li Jinying (2 years), Ms. Liu Xiangling (20 months), Ms. Liu Xiangju (20 months), and Mr. Feng Zhiyong (18 months), were convicted in 2017 prior to the redistribution of Falun Gong cases across the abovementioned three court-procuratorate jurisdictions.
The other 13 practitioners, including 73-year-old Mr. Han Junde, (8.5 years), Ms. Li Yanqiu (8 years), Ms. Sun Liying (8 years), 74-year-old Ms. Gao Jinping, (7 years), Ms. Zhang Ximei (3 years and 2 months), Ms. Zhu Surong (3 years and 10 months), Ms. Liu Dongmei (3 years), Ms. Wu Junping (1 year and 6 months), Ms. Chen Xiumei (1 year and 3 months), Ms. Guo Zhiping (1 year and 3 months), Ms. Zhang Xiaojian (1 year), Ms. Wu Xinhua (1 year), and Ms. Ma Huixin (6 months of house arrest), were sentenced in 2018 and onward.
In particular, Ms. Ma was sentenced to six months of house arrest the second day after she fell into a coma after suffering a stroke in custody. The authorities secretly moved her to a senior living center without her husband’s consent two weeks later.
The persecution also brought deep distress to the practitioners’ families. For Ms. Guo’s husband, he resorted to drinking to relieve his pain. With deep grief, he passed away six months later, shortly after his 60th birthday.
Based on available information collected by Minghui.org, all Falun Gong cases in the Baoding region are first submitted by the local procuratorate to the Baoding City Procuratorate, which then reports them to the Baoding City Intermediate Court, before being assigned to any of the three procuratorates mentioned above.
Take the Gaoyang County Procuratorate as an example. After it receives the case assigned by the intermediate court, it will indict the practitioner and then forward the case to the Gaoyang County Court. The judge would hold a show trial of the practitioner. The actual verdict is determined by the intermediate court. Then the Gaoyang County Court notifies the practitioner’s lawyer of the result.
For cases considered significant by the authorities, sometimes it would be reported to the provincial level agencies and for the higher level officials to determine the verdicts.
In recent years, as more and more judges and prosecutors become aware of the illegality of the persecution and show growing reluctance in sentencing Falun Gong practitioners, the authorities in many regions are consolidating Falun Gong cases to a few procuratorate and courts that have closely followed the persecution.
With the judges and prosecutors specifically assigned to handle Falun Gong cases, the sentencing process was also expedited.
In Jinan City, Shandong Province, the procuratorate and courts in Changqing District, Tianqiao District and Zhangqiu District are assigned to handle all Falun Gong cases in Jinan.
In Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, the Haizhu District Procuratorate and Haizhu District Court have been assigned to handle most Falun Gong cases in the Guangzhou region since 2018.
Other examples include the Hanyang District Procuratorate and Hanyang District Court in Wuhan City, Hubei Province; Linghai City Procuratorate and Linghai City Court in Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province; the Fengxian District Procuratorate and Fengxian District Court in Shanghai; and Chaoyang District Procuratorate and Chaoyang District Court in Changchun City, Jilin Province.
As no law ever criminalized Falun Gong in China, all of the sentences against the practitioners are based on fabricated evidence and abuse of the law.
During a hearing of Ms. Zhu Surong, an elementary school teacher in Baoding, on May 12, 2020, her lawyer pointed out that it was illegal for the police to ransack his client’s home without a search warrant and that they had failed to provide a list of items confiscated from her as required by law. During the second home raid, the police scaled her fence and broke in.
The lawyer added that according to the police record of Ms. Zhu’s arrest and their petition for the approval of her arrest, they confiscated 985 Falun Gong books and 133 copies of flyers from her home. However, in the confiscation list they submitted and Ms. Zhu’s indictment, it was written that 977 Falun Gong books and 113 copies of flyers were taken from Ms. Zhu's home. Both the police and prosecutor failed to explain the reason for the discrepancy.
Ms. Zhu was later sentenced to three years and ten months.
Ms. Wu Junping’s lawyer made similar arguments during her hearing on December 1, 2020. The lawyer said that it was illegal for the police to search his client’s home and confiscate her personal items without providing a confiscation list. He also pointed out that none of the records for the four interrogations bore Ms. Wu’s signature as required by law and that the police had attempted to induce a confession from her.
The lawyer added that the prosecution evidence was “authenticated” by the police who arrested Ms. Wu, when in fact the police were not an authorized independent party that could validate forensic evidence.
Ms. Wu’s daughter also defended her innocence in court. She demanded that the judge read out loud the Falun Gong booklets confiscated from Ms. Wu, so as to decided whether they had “undermined law enforcement,” as indicated in the indictment. The presiding judge Li Zhiyong claimed that there were too many pieces of evidence and he didn’t bring those booklets to the court.
Additionally, the police recorded Ms. Wu’s daughter admitting the confiscated Falun Gong materials belonged to her mother without her knowledge and listed her as a witness.
Ms. Wu was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison by the Gaoyang County Court.