(Minghui.org) Mr. Li Jun, 72, from Maoming City, Guangdong Province, was sentenced to five years and fined 10,000-yuan fine on November 8, 2023, for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. Mr. Li Jun appealed the verdict and is now awaiting the result.

When Mr. Li’s lawyer arrived at the Maonan District Court on the morning of November 8 to attend his sentencing hearing, the bailiff did not let him bring his cellphone into the courtroom. The bailiff claimed that it was their local regulation, but he couldn’t provide any legal document when he was asked by the lawyer. The lawyer noticed that prosecutor Cai Linhui brought his phone into the courtroom.

Mr. Li was handcuffed and shackled when he was brought into the courtroom. Despite his lawyer’s demand to unchain him, the presiding judge, Tan Wei, only instructed the bailiff to remove the handcuffs, while keeping the shackles on him. Given the lawyer’s strong protest, the judge agreed to take off the shackles after ten minutes of standoff.

Judge Tan quickly finished reading the verdict. He also denied the lawyer’s request to talk to Mr. Li after the hearing. Judges Ke Xuejun and Pan Chuanhua were present during the sentencing hearing, as well as the judge’s assistant Liu Qiuying and clerk Pan Yanting.

The lawyer met with Mr. Li in the detention center in the afternoon and got his signature on the appeal document and Power of Attorney to also represent him in the appeal case.

Arrest and Indictment

At 8 p.m. on February 14, 2023, Mr. Li just finished dinner when over ten officers descended on his home and raided it. They confiscated more than 30 Falun Gong books, a computer, and 200 yuan printed with information about Falun Gong (a way practitioners get around the information censorship in China). For a few days after his arrest, the police kept coming to his home and photographing it. His family was terrified.

Mr. Li’s three daughters repeatedly went to the police station to seek his release. The police said the only condition for his release was that he sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong. Mr. Li refused to comply. The police put him in criminal detention and refused to release him after the CCP annual meeting was over.

The Dianbai District Procuratorate approved Mr. Li’s arrest on March 24, 2023, and forwarded his case to the Maonan District Procuratorate on May 24. The latter procuratorate indicted him on June 8.

Court Hearing

On August 22, 2023, the Maonan District Court held a hearing of Mr. Li’s case at the Maoming City No. 1 Detention Center, where he has been held since his arrest.

Two of Mr. Li’s three daughters were the only family members allowed to attend the hearing, and the other courtroom seats were occupied by people sent by the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee, a non-judicial agency tasked with overseeing the persecution of Falun Gong.

Prosecutor Cai charged Mr. Li with “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners. Mr. Li’s lawyers refuted the allegations and emphasized that no law in China has ever criminalized Falun Gong or identified it as a cult. Additionally, Mr. Li’s exercising his constitutional right to practice Falun Gong did not harm any individual or society at large, much less undermine law enforcement.

According to Article 2 of the Criminal Procedure Law, the Criminal Procedure Law aims to ensure accurate and timely punishment of real criminals but also to protect the innocent from being wrongfully prosecuted. Mr. Li’s lawyers argued that the police and the prosecutor lacked legal basis to arrest and charge their client, thus failing to protect the innocent from being wrongfully prosecuted.

Cai alleged that Mr. Li’s oldest daughter “testified” that he sometimes went to the local market to distribute Falun Gong informational materials. Upon hearing this, Mr. Li’s daughter was indignant but she was not allowed to say anything.

After the hearing was over, Mr. Li’s daughter immediately told the lawyers, “After my father was arrested, the police told me to go to the police station for questioning. They asked me to sign the third page of a document without showing me the rest of it. I never said or wrote that my father went to the market to distribute Falun Gong materials. They must have put down the fabricated ‘testimonial’ in my name themselves. How despicable! I’m going to file complaints against them!”

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