(Minghui.org) After their court hearing was rescheduled five times, three Shangqiu City, Henan Province residents stood trial on March 16, 2021 for their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. Four lawyers entered a not guilty plea for them.

Mr. Ba Wei, in his 50s, Mr. Xi Dongsong, and Ms. Fan Yuanyuan, in her 20s, were arrested on August 29, 2019. They have been held at the Pingtai Detention Center since. The authorities had blocked their lawyers from visiting them, using the pandemic as an excuse. 

Mr. Ba’s face was injured by the police during his arrest. Two of his teeth were also knocked out. At the detention center, he was beaten by the guards and lost his vision. But after doing the Falun Gong exercises, his vision has recovered. 

Ms. Fan was forced to wear heavy shackles weighing a dozen pounds for three days. Even some detainees felt sympathy for her.

The Liangyuan District Court initially scheduled a hearing of the practitioners on July 7, 2020, but later canceled it due to insufficient evidence. Just a few hours after they scheduled another hearing for August 11, they first changed it to August 13 and then to August 18, before moving it to August 25.

During the hearing on August 25, many of the practitioners’ family members and friends also came to attend the session. Although the hearing was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., the presiding judge, Zhou Xianzhong, didn’t start it until noon. During the waiting time, the bailiffs took pictures of those who came to attend the trial. 

As soon as the judge arrived, he ordered most people out and said that only two family members per practitioner could stay to attend the hearing. However, after the attendees’ and the lawyers’ strong protest, the judge agreed for them to stay. 

Shortly after, a group of police officers arrived and demanded that the attendees remove their masks so they could take pictures of them. They refused to comply and the situation in the courtroom became chaotic. 

Seeing that things were getting out of control, prosecutor Xu Yaping shouted, “Stop it (the hearing)! Stop it! What’s going on here?!”

Several officials came and talked to the judge. Then the judge announced that he couldn’t hold the hearing that day, as they were having some internet connection and computer issues. 

The court finally held a hearing for the practitioners on March 16. Although the hearing was scheduled at 9: 30 a.m., the judge didn’t start it until 2 p.m. The hearing lasted six hours and the judge at one point drove the lawyers out. However, the lawyers were still able to enter not guilty pleas for the practitioners.

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution