(Minghui.org) A 75-year-old woman in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, was sentenced to three years and two months with a 10,000-yuan fine on September 11, 2023, for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.
Ms. Li Xuesong has filed an appeal.
Arrest and Indictment
Ms. Li never returned home on August 23, 2021. Her family found out later that she had been arrested that day after being reported for talking to fellow passengers about Falun Gong on public transportation.
The case against Ms. Li was initially handled by the Public Transportation Police Department, with the assistance of the two bus drivers in charge of Bus Lines 236 and 207 on which Ms. Li was spotted talking to people about Falun Gong. They later transferred her case to the Weiyang District Domestic Security Office, which then delegated it to Xujiawan Police Station.
Ms. Li is being held in Xujiawan Detention Center in the Weiyang District.
The police submitted the case to the Weiyang District Procuratorate. Prosecutor Sun Baiming then forwarded the case to prosecutor Chen Bo at the Lianhu District Procuratorate. Chen indicted Ms. Li and forwarded her case to the Lianhu District Court, where it was assigned to judge Quan Borong.
Deceived Into Agreeing to a Virtual Hearing
Ms. Li and her lawyer had agreed to object to virtual hearings as they were not suitable for examining prosecution evidence.
Judge Quan and her assistant Li Wei (no relation to Ms. Li), however, lied to the lawyer that Ms. Li had changed her mind and agreed to a virtual hearing. When notifying Ms. Li of her court hearing, Quan again lied, saying that her lawyer had reconsidered and said that a virtual hearing was totally fine.
Daughter Faces Obstacles in Attending Trial
Ms. Li was tried remotely in the detention center on August 12, 2022. Her daughter went to the Lianhu District Court that day to attend the hearing. She had a negative COVID-19 test result ready to show judge Quan and thought that would be all she required to be admitted to the courtroom.
Quan, however, asked her to produce proof that she was indeed Ms. Li’s daughter. The daughter argued that, by law, even strangers could attend public hearings. Quan then relented. Quan’s assistant Mr. Li chimed in and asked Ms. Li’s daughter if she had been deposed by the police as he didn’t see any such records in Ms. Li’s case document.
When Ms. Li’s daughter asked why she should be deposed, Li said that, since she shared the same residence, which Quan had asked her to write down, as Ms. Li, everyone in the house had to be deposed. Mr. Li didn’t insist on this supposed requirement, as he apparently could not just get the police to depose Ms. Li’s daughter right before the hearing. However, he demanded a copy of Ms. Li’s daughter’s ID, eventually allowing her to attend the hearing after she complied with the request.
Convicted on Fabricated Evidence
During the hearing, the prosecutor accused Ms. Li of putting up Falun Gong flyers on the two buses on which she was seen talking to people about Falun Gong. She denied having put up any Falun Gong materials on the buses.
Prosecutor Chen only showed photos of the alleged evidence, and her lawyer argued that, without seeing the actual physical evidence, it was impossible to determine its authenticity. The prosecutor then claimed that the Xi’an City Police Department had verified that the “evidence” was “illegal propaganda.” The lawyer countered that, by law, only an independent, third-party forensic agency had the authority to examine and authenticate prosecution evidence.
Quan sentenced Ms. Li to three years and two months with a 10,000-yuan fine on September 11, 2023, with her term going from August 24, 2021, to October 22, 2024.
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