(Minghui.org) Two women in Huaian City, Jiangsu Province, were sentenced to prison on August 28, 2023, for their shared faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.
Ms. Zhu Yunxia, 61, and Ms. Lin Fengying, 71, were arrested on October 5, 2022, and tried on June 7, 2023. Ms. Zhu was given one year and fined 2,000 yuan. She is appealing her verdict with the Huaian City Intermediate Court. Ms. Lin was sentenced to six months and fined 1,000 yuan.
The judge accused Ms. Lin of being a repeat offender as she was previously given three years in August 2008 for her faith. While she was in prison, the police kept harassing her husband, Mr. Dai Mingxuan, also a Falun Gong practitioner. Due to the mounting pressure, his health declined and he died on March 15, 2012. He was 68.
Ms. Zhu also lost her husband, Mr. Xie Ruxian, to the persecution. Mr. Xie was arrested on October 5, 2022, even though he did not practice Falun Gong. He was held for one month before being released on bail. His health was severely affected during his detention and never recovered. He died on February 13, 2023. He was 67.
Ms. Zhu went to visit Ms. Lin at around 3 p.m. on October 5, 2022. Two plainclothes officers who had been monitoring Ms. Lin seized Ms. Zhu as soon as the door opened. More officers came out of nowhere and broke into Ms. Lin’s home. None of the officers showed their IDs or explained the reason for their presence.
The two women learned later that the police had been monitoring them for nearly two months before arresting them. The police suspected Ms. Lin of distributing Falun Gong informational materials on August 14, 2022, and alleged that Ms. Zhu made those materials.
Eight more officers came shortly after and raided Ms. Lin’s home with their coworkers. They confiscated Ms. Lin’s Falun Gong books, memory cards and other valuables before taking her and Ms. Zhu to the Economic Development Zone Case Handling Center in Huaian City.
While the police raid was going on at Ms. Lin’s home, another group of over a dozen officers opened Ms. Zhu’s door using the key they’d taken from her purse. They ordered her husband Mr. Xie to sit on a couch without moving and spent the next three hours raiding the place. They confiscated Ms. Zhu’s Falun Gong books, printer, copy paper, headphones, computer, flash drives, memory cards, music players, cell phones, electric bicycle, and routers.
One officer reached out for a pile of cash but Mr. Xie stopped him.
At around 8 p.m., Mr. Xie was taken to the Economic Development Zone Case Handling Center.
On October 8, 2022, officer Wang Ziye from the Haikou Road Police Station, who was in charge of the case, notified Ms. Lin, Ms. Zhu, and Mr. Xie’s families to deliver clothes to them as they had been moved to the Huaian City Detention Center.
Mr. Xie had always been in good health, but he became emaciated after one month of detention and died three months later.
The Lianshui County Court held a hearing on June 7, 2023. Judge Fu Libin presided over the trial. Prosecutors Yang Haijiao and Yang Yu were present. Ms. Zhu and Ms. Lin’s lawyers entered a not-guilty plea for them. Their respective children, who served as their non-lawyer defenders, also defended their innocence.
During the ten-hour-long hearing, Ms. Zhu remained standing because she refused to sit in the defendant’s chair as she broke no law. Ms. Lin also denied having violated any law and sat on the side instead of in the defendant’s seat.
Both Ms. Lin and Ms. Zhu were charged with violating Article 300 of the Criminal Law, which states that anyone using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their lawyers argued that China’s law-making body, the People’s Congress, has never enacted any law criminalizing Falun Gong or labeling it a cult.
The two prosecutors cited as legal basis a statutory interpretation of Article 300 of the Criminal Law issued by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in November 1999. The interpretation required that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.
The lawyers pointed out that a new statutory interpretation that replaced the 1999 version took effect on February 1, 2017. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no enacted law in China labels Falun Gong a cult, the charges against the two practitioners based on the statutory interpretation lacked legal basis.
The prosecutor also cited as legal basis two notices issued by China’s Administration of Press and Publications in July 1999 to ban the publication of Falun Gong books. The lawyers pointed out that the Administration issued a repeal of the ban in 2011 and that it was fully legal for practitioners to own Falun Gong books. As such, the Falun Gong materials confiscated from the two practitioners’ homes should never have been used as admissible evidence in their trial.
Both the lawyers and non-lawyer defenders also pointed out the police’s and the prosecutors’ violations of legal procedures during the hearing.
Police’s Violation of Legal Procedures
The police’s case filing form dated August 14, 2022, stated that Ms. Lin was suspected of distributing Falun Gong materials on that day. However, there were no surveillance videos or photos proving she had indeed done so. Moreover, there was even no mention of what materials she had allegedly distributed. As such, the police lacked probable cause to establish a criminal case against her in the first place.
During the raids of Ms. Lin’s and Ms. Zhu’s homes, the police didn’t show their IDs or any search warrants. Six of the officers who searched Ms. Zhu’s home were not in uniform. The lawyers and the non-lawyer defenders were not allowed to view the police body cam footage of the raids and the subsequent interrogation of the two women.
The police raid transcript did not indicate the specific items confiscated and their quantities as required by law. Instead, the police referred to the notice of forfeiture, which was issued after the police raid, to justify the confiscation of Ms. Zhu and Ms. Lin’s personal belongings. The police cited the notice of forfeiture as evidence to have found “illegal items” from the two practitioners’ homes, but the notice didn’t include photos of the confiscated items as required by law.
Ms. Zhu’s husband Mr. Xie witnessed the police raid. He was arrested without a valid reason, which resulted in his untimely death.
In order to frame Ms. Lin and Ms. Zhu as having worked closely to make and distribute Falun Gong materials, the police collected DNA samples from both women on the day of their arrests. The police then alleged that the Falun Gong materials Ms. Zhu carried with her when she visited Ms. Lin had the latter’s DNA. However, the materials were seized from Ms. Zhu the moment she entered Ms. Lin’s home. In other words, Ms. Lin never had a chance to touch the materials, much less leave her DNA on them.
The police also stated in a report dated October 10, 2022, that “Zhu Yunxia’s DNA was found on some of the materials Lin Fengying gave out” and concluded that Ms. Zhu made the materials for Ms. Lin to distribute. The DNA report, however, was issued on October 31, 2022. How could the police draw that conclusion weeks before the DNA report came back?
Prosecutors’ Violation of Legal Procedures
Mr. Xie was made a witness for the prosecution without his knowledge after being interrogated in police custody. The prosecutors read aloud his “testimony against his wife” at the hearing, which was four months after his passing.
The prosecutors also listed five witnesses that would testify against Ms. Lin. None of the witnesses was in court to accept cross-examination as required by law. The prosecutors did not explain the reason for their absence and simply read aloud their “testimonies,” which described how they saw Ms. Lin distribute Falun Gong materials at certain places. There was no video, photo, or physical evidence to support the testimonies.
The Falun Gong books and materials confiscated from Ms. Lin and Ms. Zhu’s homes were also cited as prosecution evidence. The prosecutors, however, did not present any of that in court. The lawyers and non-lawyer defenders both argued that these books and materials were their clients’ lawfully owned possessions and caused no harm to any individual or society at large, much less undermine law enforcement. They asked the prosecutor to present the books and materials in court to see what part of it was illegal. The judge shot down the request and only asked if Ms. Lin and Ms. Zhu indeed owned those items.
The prosecutors presented a “certificate of verification” from the Huaian City Police Department that stated that the confiscated Falun Gong books and materials were illegal propaganda. The certificate didn’t show the name of the individual who supposedly verified the items. More importantly, a law enforcement agency has no authority to verify prosecution evidence. Only an independent, third-party forensic agency is qualified to examine and authenticate prosecution evidence.
The lawyers and non-lawyer defenders emphasized the prosecutors’ failure to investigate the police’s violation of legal procedures in the first place, meaning that the prosecutors had thus committed the crime of dereliction of duty by indicting the two practitioners without evidence or legal basis.
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