(Minghui.org) The appeals by seven Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province residents against wrongful sentences for their faith in Falun Gong were rejected by the Daqing City Intermediate Court on December 10, 2021.
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. Li Lizhuang, a 48-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, was sentenced to ten years and eight months with an 80,000-yuan fine. Ms. Tang Zhuyin, in her 70s, was sentenced to nine years and four months with a 50,000-yuan fine.Ms. Zhao Lihua was sentenced to seven years and five months with a 40,000-yuan fine.Mr. Huo Xiaohui was sentenced to seven years and three months with a 40,000-yuan fine.Ms. Ding Yan was sentenced to four years and two months with a 30,000-yuan fine.Ms. Jiao Qihua was sentenced to four years with a 30,000-yuan fine.Ms. Li Yanqing was sentenced to one year and ten months with a 20,000-yuan fine.
The seven practitioners were arrested on April 7 and 8, 2020 for making phone calls to the public about how the communist regime covered up the pandemic, as well as how coronavirus patients recovered by reciting the auspicious phrases “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”
The police accused them of making propaganda calls and violating Article 300 of the criminal law, i.e., “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” which has become the standard pretext used by the authorities to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.
The practitioners appeared in Ranghulu District Court four times, on December 17 and 29, 2020, and June 22 and October 21, 2021. The judge sentenced them on November 17, 2021. They appealed with the Daqing City Intermediate Court on November 29. The higher court accepted the cases on December 1 and ruled to uphold their original verdicts nine days later.
When a family member of Mr. Li’s called the higher court on December 17, he was dumbfounded to learn that the court had ruled to uphold the sentences. Below is his conversation with the judge Zhao Peng.
Family Member: “It has just been a few days. Don’t you think you made the decision too hastily? Did you investigate into it? Or did you hear the legal opinions from the lawyers?”
Judge Zhao: “We reached the decision through the collegiate court. It’s not my personal opinion.”
Family Member: “In the first instance trial, they didn’t allow the lawyers to talk. For such a high-profile case, you made such a quick decision without a full investigation? Mr. Li’s prison sentence is so long and the fine is so heavy. His life matters to us! How can we expect you at the intermediate court to uphold justice for the general public [when you failed to uphold justice for him]? After serving ten years, we don’t even know whether he can come back home alive. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was just practicing his spiritual belief.”
Judge Zhao: “I don’t want to discuss spiritual belief with you over the phone. Our government has its own rules.”
Family Member: “You have to look into the case and collect evidence about it. Isn’t that right? We had so much faith in you! Now you wrapped up the case in just one week? If it happened to your family, how would you feel? If one day Falun Gong is vindicated, will you bear the responsibility?”
Judge Zhao: “If you don’t agree with our ruling, you can follow the law and continue to appeal.”
Family Member: “You didn’t inform us when you accepted the case.”
Judge Zhao: “You should just follow the legal procedure. We’ve made our decision. I can’t offer any more opinion about the case.”
Family Member: “For such a heavy term, what’s your reason for making the decision so hastily?”
Judge Zhao: “We don’t get to decide whether he is guilty, or whether his spiritual belief is right or not. I can’t say more to you. The government has its own laws and we can only follow the law.”
Family Member: “What law does the government have? Its cult list doesn’t include Falun Gong, does it?”
Judge Zhao: “I don’t want to discuss it with you.”
Family Member: “As a judge, if you don’t want to talk about this, then what are you going to talk about?”
Judge Zhao: “Our final decision was made based on the law.”
Family Member: “You didn’t follow the law in ruling the case. I don’t know what’s your legal basis. I have to know what law did my family member violate. For you as a judge, you have to know it, right?”
Judge Zhao: “Don’t ask me such questions. I’m not going to talk about this with you. What we did is how it should be done. You can still file a motion to reconsider the case. But don’t ask me how to do it. I don’t know much about it. You can find a lawyer yourself.”
Family Member: “You have to follow the law in ruling the case. You have to give an opportunity to our lawyer. You have to give an opportunity to us and to yourself. You made the decision in just one week. It’s just too quick and careless. For such wrongful conviction cases, you will be held responsible. You have to be responsible to yourself. Aren’t they [the central government] looking into those wrongful conviction cases that took place in the past few decades?”
Judge Zhao: “We didn’t make the decision carelessly. We know our responsibility. We didn’t believe it’s wrongful conviction.”
Family Member: “There was no evidence at all when the first instance court sentenced Mr. Li and other practitioners. This is wrongful conviction.”
Judge Zhao: “Why can’t you persuade your family not to practice Falun Gong anymore?”
Family Member: “He didn’t do anything wrong in practicing Falun Gong. He just wants to be a good person.”
Judge Zhao: “How did he begin to practice Falun Gong?”
Family Member: “Li Lizhuang was a doctor. He never received any gift or bribes from his patients. When his patients couldn’t afford blood transfusions, he used his own money to pay for it. At home, he is treating the elderly very well. What’s wrong with that?”
Judge Zhao: “I don’t want to talk about this. If you think it’s good, then I don’t have much to say.”
Family Member: “Then what can I say? There are people from over 100 countries or regions practicing Falun Gong.”
Judge Zhao: “For what you said, if you think there is nothing wrong, then I don’t want to comment on it.”
Family Member: “They believe in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Do you think that’s wrong? Does it violate the law?”
Judge Zhao: “I’m not discussing this with you.”
Family Member: “You are upholding such heavy sentences against innocent people, including an elderly woman [referring to Ms. Tang in her 70s]. We don’t know if they can come back alive! It’s about seven families! Aren’t they all ruined? The prison is known to torture people to force them to renounce their faith. There are so many who have been beaten to death.”
Judge Zhao: “I don’t know who were forced to renounce the practice or beaten to death. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. You should just follow the legal procedure.”
Family Member: “I know you aren’t the one who made the final decision. But if you encounter Falun Gong cases in the future, you should think for yourself and you can’t make a decision so hastily.”
Judge Zhao: “If you don’t have anything else to say, I will hang up the phone.”
Perpetrators of Daqing City Intermediate Court:
Wu Yang (伍洋), presiding judge Zhao Peng (赵鹏), judge Wang Haiyan (王海燕), judge Liu Guoxi (刘国喜), judge’s assistantXu Man (徐曼), court clerk
(More perpetrators’ information is available in the original Chinese article.)
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