(Minghui.org) A 50-year-old Changchun City, Jilin Province resident was taken to the Jilin Province Women’s Prison after her appeal against a three-year term for practicing Falun Gong was rejected.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The trial court judge blocked Ms. Jing Fengwei’s lawyer from reviewing her case documents or defending her in court. He also appointed a lawyer to enter a guilty plea for her and threatened to arrest her family when they tried to seek justice for her.
Ms. Jing, a native of Liuhe County, Jilin Province, had her residence registration suspended, after she finished serving a three-year term for practicing Falun Gong in 2018.
She went to her hometown in Liuhe County on October 9, 2020 to apply for a new residence registration. Upon seeing that police officer Zhao Zihan had misunderstandings about Falun Gong, she returned to the Liunan Village Police Station three days later and handed a letter to Zhao to clarify the facts about the practice.
Accusing her of promoting Falun Gong, Zhao and Du Hongwei, the police chief, reported Ms. Jing to the Liuhe County Domestic Security Office. The agency created a case against her in March 2021 and arrested her on July 15. She was held at the Changliu Detention Center.
Ms. Jing’s arrest was approved on July 26. The police submitted her case to the Liuhe County Procuratorate on September 22. Although prosecutor Hei Junxian promised to allow Ms. Jing’s lawyer to review her case documents, he either hung up on her family or didn’t answer the call when they tried to reach him.
When the family and their lawyer went to the Procuratorate to submit the Power of Attorney on September 30, the security personnel blocked the lawyer from entering, with the excuse that he wasn’t vaccinated against COIVD-19. The lawyer tried to file a complaint against the procuratorate, but to no avail. He also tried to call prosecutor Hei, but he still didn’t answer the call.
Legal Representation Blocked
After Ms. Jing was indicted on October 18, one of her family members applied to defend her in court with judge Lu Xu of the Liuhe County Court. Lu also blocked the family member from representing her, reviewing her case documents, or even visiting her. When the family member and the lawyer questioned Lu about why he was blocking Ms. Jing’s legal representation, Lu replied that it wasn’t up to him to decide whether they were allowed to represent her in court. He asked them to submit their legal opinion and he would take it as a reference.
Judge Lu also tried to persuade Ms. Jing’s family to accept the court-appointed lawyer. He added that whether they or their lawyer agreed, he still had to do so. The family asked him upon which law his decision was based upon. Lu replied, “This is my own decision, OK? Are you happy about it now?”
The family said that he would be held accountable for his action in the future. Lu replied that he would deal with any problem that may come up. He hinted that he had people in the higher up ranks supporting him, and the family could file any complaint against him, anywhere.
Lu added, “What can you do even if we deprive you of the legal rights? When we scheduled the hearing last time, there were so many people calling us and the Political and Legal Affairs Committee from abroad. You have severely affected our job (the hearing was later canceled). Why didn’t we receive so many calls for other cases? Just because of your negative influence on the country, I have the right to bar you from defending her in court.”
He also threatened the family member who requested to defend Ms. Jing, “I know you also have a younger sister. If anything happens to you, you won’t be able to take it. You think no one is watching what you are doing? We know everything about you!”
When the court held a virtual hearing on November 17, the judge claimed that Ms. Jing’s lawyer felt it was unnecessary to attend the hearing in person and simply mailed in his defense statement. Ms. Jing didn’t believe the judge and asked her family why the lawyer didn’t come. The judge didn’t allow her family to talk.
Ms. Jing opposed the virtual hearing and demanded to have an in-person session, and ask for her own lawyer to represent her. The judge repeated that the lawyer wouldn’t be allowed to come and he had submitted his defense statement while turning in his Power of Attorney.
As the judge refused to reschedule the hearing for an in-person session, Ms. Jing agreed to continue with the virtual setting. She testified in her own defense and recounted how the police arrested her while not wearing police uniforms and injured her wrists, which took days to recover.
Ms. Jing demanded that the prosecutor read the letter she wrote to the police, which was used as prosecution evidence against her. The letter said that Falun Gong practitioners follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance and have no interest in pursuing personal gains or political power. If everyone lives by the same principles, people’s morality will improve and many social problems will be solved.
She added that it was her freedom of spiritual belief and speech to practice Falun Gong and tell people about it. She was merely following the principles to be a good person and didn’t do anything to harm anyone, let alone undermining any law enforcement as she was charged of. She also pointed out that no law has ever criminalized Falun Gong in China and that the Chinese publication bureau also lifted the ban on Falun Gong literature in 2011.
In her final statement, she said to the judge, “I know this isn’t your own decision and you are just following the order from above. But the order is wrong. I hope you can handle my case fairly and justly, and not be influenced by any external factors.” She demanded that the judge acquit her in the end.
After the hearing, the Changliu Detention Center where Ms. Jing was detained worked with the Tonghua City Justice Bureau to block her family and lawyer from visiting her.
When her family and lawyer went to the justice bureau on December 24 again to apply to visit her, they were prompted to contact the Tonghua City Intermediate Court.
The lawyer called the higher court, and was told by clerk Guo, who was working for judge Wang Junhong, that the trial court had asked for their instructions, but they hadn’t made any decision yet. Guo didn’t explain what instruction the trial court was seeking. But Ms. Jing’s lawyer said that whether it was about the lawyer’s legal representation, Ms. Jing’s prison term, or her visitation, the trial court has violated the law in doing so.
While the higher court never approved the lawyer’s visitation to Ms. Jing, judge Lu of the trial court sentenced her to three years on December 31.
After the lawyer appealed the verdict, both judge Lu from the trial court and judge Wang from the higher court refused to answer his and his client’s family’s phone calls. When Ms. Jing’s family went to the higher court to inquire about her case on February 8, they were surprised to learn that judge Wang had already ruled to uphold her original sentence on January 26.
The detention center initially refused to reveal to Ms. Jing’s family whether she was still there, and directed them to the police. They told the family on February 11 that she had been transferred to the Jilin Province Women’s Prison on February 8.
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