(Minghui.org) A 66-year-old resident of Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province was sentenced to four years and fined 10,000 yuan on September 11, 2023 for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999. Mr. Miao Zhongjun is appealing the wrongful conviction.
Mr. Miao was arrested on May 10, 2022 and appeared in court on March 23, 2023. According to legal experts, it took the trial court until September 2023 to issue a guilty verdict possibly because they had to consult with the provincial high court, as neither them nor the appeals court had any say in Falun Gong cases.
Mr. Miao’s parents, who had relied on him for care, were so distraught about his arrest that they died one after the other. His mother passed away on March 13, 2023 and his father on May 22, 2023. He was not allowed to see them before their passing or attend their funerals.
Mr. Miao was arrested on May 10, 2022, at his parents’ home, where he had been staying to take care of them. The police handcuffed him behind his back and confiscated his personal belongings.
When the police released Mr. Miao on bail three days later, they told his parents that the conditions of bail release would be valid for a year, after which they would be lifted if he didn’t commit any crimes during the time.
Two months later, on July 25, the police deceived Mr. Miao into stepping outside of his parents’ apartment building and arrested him, hours after the Xincheng District Procuratorate approved his arrest warrant. Only then did Mr. Miao realize that the police had been seeking to prosecute him.
Mr. Miao’s arrest and detention dealt his mother, Ms. Li Fenghua, a hard blow. She missed him and had many sleepless nights. She was soon diagnosed with a terminal disease.
In the final days of her life, she cried with enormous pain, asking to see Mr. Miao for the last time. Mr. Miao’s wife applied to judge Quan Borong to have Mr. Miao released to see his mother, but the judge rejected her request. Mr. Miao’s mother passed away on March 13, ten days before his hearing. Her devastated husband died two months later.
Lawyer Barred from Reviewing Case Documents
When Mr. Miao’s lawyer went to the Lianhu District Procuratorate to review his case document, prosecutor Zhao Shiyuan questioned him on whether he signed a representation agreement with Mr. Miao’s family, whether he provided a receipt of their payment to him, and whether he notified his local justice bureau of his representation of a Falun Gong practitioner with the local justice bureau.
Zhao added that Mr. Miao’s case involved state secrets and she had to ask for permission from her supervisor, before she could allow the lawyer to review his case documents. She refused to provide her phone number to the lawyer, saying that she would contact him if she had any updates. She also asked for personal information of Mr. Miao’s family member who hired the lawyer. The lawyer refused to answer her question and said that it was illegal for her to ask for private information on his client.
After leaving Zhao’s office, the lawyer filed a complaint against her, but to no avail. Zhao indicted Mr. Miao and moved his case to the Lianhu District Court on the next day, without allowing the lawyer to review his case documents.
The Lianhu District Procuratorate and Lianhu District Court have been designated by the Political and Legal Affairs Committee to handle Falun Gong cases in Xi’an City since 2014. Many Falun Gong practitioners have been convicted by them, including Ms. Xiao Chunhong, Ms. Liu Caixian and Ms. Song Qiuxia.
Mr. Miao appeared in the Lianhu District Court on March 23, 2023 and his lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him.
The prosecution evidence included testimony from people whom Mr. Miao had talked to about Falun Gong, as well as Falun Gong books and informational materials confiscated from his home. The lawyer argued that the Chinese publication bureau has long lifted the ban on Falun Gong books in 2011. As such, Mr. Miao shouldn’t have been charged for possessing and distributing Falun Gong materials or talking to people about it.
Prosecutor Zhao only showed photos of the alleged evidence against Mr. Miao, and his lawyer argued that without seeing the actual physical evidence, it was impossible to determine the authenticity of the evidence. 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 has the authority to examine and authenticate the prosecution evidence.
Prosecutor Zhao threatened to give Mr. Miao a heavy term because he refused to plead guilty. Mr. Miao maintained that he didn’t violate any law. He asked the prosecutor, “If practicing Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is considered a cult, then please tell me what do you think is a righteous practice?”
The prosecutor also asked Mr. Miao where he got the Falun Gong materials. He refused to answer.
Mr. Miao’s brother represented him as a family defender. He said that his brother should never have been prosecuted for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of belief. Additionally, his distributing Falun Gong materials didn’t cause any harm to any individual or society at large, much less undermine law enforcement as alleged by the prosecution.
The younger Mr. Miao also said his brother, the oldest child in their family, had been the main caregiver to their 86-year-old mother and 97-year-old father, a veteran who still has a bullet left in his body as a result of fighting for his country. He often taught his siblings to be kind and considerate.
The other three family members of Mr. Miao who attended the hearing were arranged to sit in the corners, surrounded by bailiffs, who threatened to remove them from the courtroom if they didn’t follow their orders.
Mr. Miao was sentenced on September 11, 2023 and all his lawful possessions were also impounded. His prison sentence ran from July 25, 2022 to July 22, 2026.
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