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68-Year-Old Anhui Woman Seeks to Be Exonerated After Completing a Prior Wrongful Sentence, Only to Be Sentenced to Four More Years

April 2, 2024 |   By a Minghui correspondent in Anhui Province, China

(Minghui.org) A 68-year-old Hefei City, Anhui Province, resident completed a 2.5-year prison sentence on April 8, 2021, only to be targeted for seeking to be exonerated. In 2023, she was given four additional years.

Ms. Zhai Yanan’s first prison term resulted from her arrest in October 2018 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. She stood trial on May 26, 2020. She was sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 3,000 yuan on August 24.

After she was released on April 8, 2021, Ms. Zhai filed a motion with the Hefei City Intermediate Court on July 22 that year, requesting a reconsideration of her case and that she be exonerated. She also sent the motion through registered mail to the court leadership, the Jinggang Police Station, the Shushan District Procuratorate, and the Shushan District Court, the latter three are responsible for her arrest, indictment, and sentencing.

In early September 2021, Ms. Zhai continued her efforts by mailing her motion to the mayor of Hefei, the city CCP (Chinese Communist Party) secretary, the Political and Legal Affairs Committee secretary, and the head of the Hefei City Police Department.

On September 10, 2021, four officers of the Yimin Street Police Station in Ms. Zhai’s home district of Luyang, as well as a few staff members from the residential committee and property management of her neighborhood, came to her home.

“You wrote a letter to the secretary of Hefei Political and Legal Affairs Committee. Now the secretary of the Luyang District Political and Legal Affairs Committee wants to talk to you,” the police station deputy chief told her.

Ms. Zhai said that everything she wanted to say was written in the letter. The officers insisted that she go with them. They took her to a hotel and held her there for 19 days. Every day, the officers, who refused to reveal their identities, ordered her to write statements to renounce Falun Gong and stop mailing her motion. They said if she had to do it, she couldn’t mention anything about Falun Gong in her motion. Ms. Zhai insisted that she was exercising her constitutionally protected right in practicing Falun Gong. She held a hunger strike for five days to protest the arbitrary arrest and detention.

The police released Ms. Zhai on September 28, 2021, and raided her home ten days later. They also followed her every day.

Ms. Zhai went out to buy groceries at around 9 a.m. on May 10, 2022, when it started to rain. She sought shelter under the eaves of a storefront. A man was there, so they started chatting. About ten minutes later, deputy chief Liu Weidong of the Yimin Street Police Station showed up together with seven officers. They flashed a summons and dragged Ms. Zhai into a cruiser. The man she was talking to was put in another cruiser.

The police took Ms. Zhai to the Hefei City First People’s Hospital for a physical examination before driving her to their police station. They released her under house arrest after 3 p.m. The house arrest notice bore the seal of the police station’s supervising agency, the Luyang District Police Department.

On May 18, 2022, three officers from the Yimin Street Police Station, including Liu Hongwei (+86-13905609191), as well as two community workers, delivered an indictment to Ms. Zhai. Prosecutor Li Weihua (+86-551-63503473, +86-18955183473) from the Shushan District Procuratorate signed the indictment.

The Shushan District Court held a virtual hearing on November 11, 2022, and Ms. Zhai was taken to the Shushan District Procuratorate to attend the session. Prosecutor Li said the man whom Ms. Zhai spoke to on that rainy day said she told him, “Falun Gong is good.” Li also said the surveillance videos recorded the conversation.

While there was nothing illegal in saying “Falun Gong is good,” Ms. Zhai did not talk to that man about Falun Gong in their brief encounter. Her lawyer argued that the police never questioned her about her conversation with the man. A one-sided “confession” from him would likely be a result of police coercion. Additionally, Li did not show the said video or call the man to the stand to be cross-examined.

The lawyer demanded Ms. Zhai’s acquittal, but judges Wu Xiaoshui (+86-18956030807) and Xia Yunjiao (+86-18956039937) sentenced her to four years in 2023 (exact time unknown).

Related Reports:

66-year-old Woman Detained for 19 Days for Seeking Justice Against a Previous Wrongful Sentence

Anhui Woman Sentenced to Prison for Passing Out Materials about Her Faith