(Minghui.org) A Chinese court canceled the hearing of a Falun Gong practitioner after his lawyers refused to turn in their own laptops and use the computers provided by the court in the hearing.

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

Mr. Zhou Huajian, a 70-year-old Maoming City, Guangdong Province resident, was arrested on March 26, 2020 after being caught by the police for sending text messages to people about Falun Gong. Nearly 30 officers ransacked his home and confiscated his Falun Gong books, informational materials, computer, printer, as well 9,000 yuan in cash. His electric bicycle was also impounded.

Mr. Zhou’s two lawyers visited him at the Maoming City No.1 Detention Center on May 8, 2020, and were told that he had lost a significant amount of weight after one month of detention.

When Mr. Zhou’s lawyers went to the Maonan Procuratorate on July 23, 2020, they were told that Mr. Zhou has been indicted and his case forwarded to the Maonan District Court. He was charged with “sending text messages about Falun Gong” and “undermining law enforcement.” 

Mr. Zhou’s two lawyers were informed by the Maonan District Court in early April 2021 that Mr. Zhou’s hearing through a video conference had been scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on April 6. 

Before the lawyers entered the courthouse after they arrived at 9:10 a.m. on April 6, the presiding judge, Zhou Jinfeng (no relation to Mr. Zhou), came out and asked them to turn in their laptops and cellphones. Zhou claimed that the lawyers can use the court’s laptops during the hearing. 

After the lawyers refused to comply, judge Zhou took out a notice issued by the Supreme People's Court in 2020, stating that the court has the right to restrict the use of digital devices in major and sensitive cases. 

The lawyers asked the judge how do they determine what cases are considered major or sensitive, but the judge refused to answer. 

Judge Zhou reported the incident to the court’s president Ruan Zhiqiang, who also prohibited the lawyers from using their own devices during the hearing, but refused to say whether Mr. Zhou’s case is considered major or sensitive.

Although judge Zhou later asked the court staff members to prepare for the hearing, he announced a few minutes later that it was canceled. He said the new date would be communicated with the lawyers at a later time. 

The lawyers visited Mr. Zhou at the detention center in the afternoon and he was in good spirits.

Related report:

Man in His 70s Faces Trial for Sending Text Messages about His Faith

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution