(Minghui.org) Ms. Song Shuhua’s family never received any updates on her case after she appeared in court on December 13, 2021 for her faith in Falun Gong. They hired a lawyer to represent her in March 2022, and the lawyer was surprised to find out that she has been sentenced to one year and ten months on February 25, 2022. But her family has never been made aware of the sentencing hearing or given a copy of her verdict.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been targeted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Song, a 63-year-old resident in Laishui County, Hebei Province, was arrested on June 16, 2021, after being reported for talking to people at a community fair about Falun Gong. While ransacking her home, the police also arrested her husband, Mr. Li Guolin. After 15 days at the Laishui County Lockup, the couple were put on criminal detention with the charge of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to criminalize Falun Gong in China.
While Mr. Li was released on bail on July 31, Ms. Song remains incarcerated at the Baoding City Detention Center. The police summoned Mr. Li to the police station several times since then.
The couple were tried by the Zhuozhou Court on December 13, 2021. Mr. Li attended the session in person at the court. Ms. Song was connected through a video call and her face was blurred by the court.
The judge said to Ms. Song, “If you promise not to practice Falun Gong anymore, we can release you home to celebrate the New Year with your family.”
Ms. Song refused to comply and said to the judge, “Falun Gong is not a cult. It gives me good health and teaches me to be a good person. It’s so great, so of course I will continue to practice it!”
The judge adjourned the session without announcing the verdict.
Ms. Song’s family hired a lawyer for her on March 7, 2022. The lawyer went to the Zhuozhou City Court, Zhuozhou City Procuratorate, Laishui County Procuratorate, Laishui County Police Department and Yongyang Police Station on March 7 and 8 to submit his legal opinion. Only then did he find out that Ms. Song has already been sentenced to one year and ten months with 10,000 yuan by the Zhuozhou City Court on February 25. He also learned that the deadline of filing an appeal has passed.
When the lawyer demanded a copy of her verdict, the judge refused to give it to him, but asked her family to pick it up themselves. The judge also indicated that he had informed the lawyer that he appointed to represent Ms. Song of her verdict. But Ms. Song’s family said they were never aware that she had a court-appointed lawyer and that the court-appointed lawyer never contacted them about her verdict either. Moreover, the judge never informed the family of her sentencing hearing on February 25.
It’s also not clear whether the court was planning to sentence Mr. Li.
In addition to the couple’s ordeal, their daughter, Ms. Li Shuang, 29, has been held at the Xicheng District Detention Center in Beijing since her arrest on August 11, 2019, also for practicing Falun Gong.
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