Prosecutor Uses Fabricated Evidence Against Falun Gong Practitioner in Court
On November 30, 2020, Ms. Che Jinxia was illegally tried in the Xiangyang District Court for refusing to give up her faith in Falun Gong. Che, a 54-year-old native of Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province, has been held in the Jiamusi City Detention center since her arrest on July 25, 2019.
Initial Arrest and Torture
Che was arrested on July 25, 2019, while visiting a friend. Changqing Police Station officers forced her to do a handstand and pulled her legs apart. They also sexually assaulted her and tortured her in other ways. Much of her hair was pulled out and she was covered in bruises. She was then taken and detained at the Jiamusi City Detention Center.
On October 22, 2019, the Jiaoqu Procuratorate charged Che with “undermining law enforcement,” which is a standard pretext used to sentence Falun Gong practitioners. Her case was later transferred to the Xiangyang District Procuratorate, which forwarded it to the Xiangyang District Court in mid-March 2020.
Meanwhile, Che’s husband filed legal complaints with several government agencies against the nine policemen involved. He also reported the police brutality on the special government website. Instead of addressing his complaints, the police threatened him and took away the evidence of the assault.
Che’s then 86-year-old father, Mr. Che Weiqi, also visited the local police station many times in the snowy winter to seek justice for her, but to no avail.
When Che’s lawyer visited her on July 22, 2020, he learned that Che had never recovered from the torture. She had been bedridden for six months. She had trouble taking care of herself, walking, and using the restroom. She also had injuries to her skull, right leg, little finger, and lumbar spine. In addition, she had difficulty breathing and eating. She was in pain all over and could not sleep at night.
She had asked to see a doctor several times, but the detention center repeatedly made excuses and deferred action.
Learning of her situation, her family entrusted her lawyer to request her release on medical bail with the Xiangyang District Procuratorate and Xiangyang District Court. The lawyer also filed complaints against the police for torturing her but to no avail.
Stymied Legal Representation and Coercion
Che’s family found Li, the prosecutor, and told him how she had been tortured. Li said, “I’ve seen Che Jinxia in the detention center. She didn’t tell me that she was tortured.”
Li also told Che’s family that hiring a lawyer for her would result in a longer prison term for her. If they dismissed the lawyer, the judge would give her a lighter sentence and she could return home sooner.
Her family believed Li and dismissed the lawyer, so judge Song appointed a government lawyer to represent Che and instructed him to enter a guilty plea for her.
When the court-appointed lawyer visited Che in the detention center, he deceived her, saying that her husband had been arrested because of her. Only after she wrote a statement to renounce Falun Gong and pled guilty would he be released. Che believed him and wrote the required statement.
Since July 2019, most Falun Gong cases in the Jiamusi region have been submitted to the Xiangyang District Procuratorate and Xiangyang District Court and handled by prosecutor Li and judge Song. They sometimes use reduced terms or other tactics to convince the practitioners’ families to dismiss their lawyers or prevent the lawyers from representing the practitioners.
False Testimony and Closed-Door Prosecution
Che’s first hearing was on October 26, 2020, through a video conference at the detention center. It was attended by two of her family members.
According to Che’s family, the prosecutor, Li Lifeng, presented a large amount of Falun Gong materials as evidence for the prosecution. Che argued except for the Falun Gong books and magazines that were for her personal use, the 150 Falun Gong banners the police claimed to have found in her bag were not hers and the DVD burner confiscated from her father were not pertinent. She also said freedom of belief is her Constitutional right and her reading Falun Gong books at home did not cause harm to other people or obstruct the enforcement of law.
A piece of testimony from Che’s neighbor, Song Yuhua, was also used against her. Song claimed that Che often went out to distribute Falun Gong flyers and DVDs and had given some to Song. Che denied the allegation and said she never gave Song any Falun Gong materials and barely knew her.
After the hearing, Che’s husband went to Song to verify her statement. Song said that the police questioned her on December 25, 2019. They asked her if she had seen any Falun Gong practitioners visiting Che’s father in their apartment or if she had noticed the father and daughter printing and distributing Falun Gong materials. She told the police that she did not know them or what they did at home. She then signed the interrogation record without reading and had not realized the police had fabricated her account. She told Che’s husband that she was willing to accept cross-examination in court.
After Che’s husband submitted Song’s refutation, the prosecutor returned Che’s case to the police for verification.
Che’s second hearing was held on November 30; it was a closed-door video conference from the Jiamusi City Detention center. The presiding judge, Song Tao, did not allow her family to attend the hearing. Her family suspects that the judge and prosecutor were trying to cover up the fabricated evidence against Che. They worry she will be wrongfully sentenced.
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