Sichuan Judge Sends Seven Falun Gong Practitioners to Prison After Mockery of a Trial
On August 26, 2011, a group trial of seven Falun Gong practitioners was held at the Wuhou District Court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. At its end, all seven were sent to prison camps for terms ranging from two to seven years. The following details, relayed from individuals inside China close to the case, portray a mockery of justice and series of manipulations highlighting the Communist Party’s systematic disregard for Chinese law in its campaign against Falun Gong.
The seven Falun Gong practitioners on trial had all worked at one time at a shop called Chengdu Computer City. On July 21, 2009, officers from Tiaosanta Police Station broke into the shop and abducted five employees, then went to the homes of two former employees and took them into custody. They did not present any legal documents, warrants, or forms of identification. In violation of Chinese criminal law, the group was held in custody for over two years without being brought before a judge.
When the hearing was finally held in late August, it began at 9am and lasted until 8pm. The practitioners testified that they had been tortured in custody and that practicing Falun Gong is not a crime. Their lawyers refuted evidence presented by the prosecutor and exposed fabrications produced by the police, while also presenting arguments explaining why practicing Falun Gong is not illegal under Chinese law (for a detailed expert analysis of this point, see here).
Judge Huang Yi, who oversaw the hearing, repeatedly interrupted the defense attorneys’ speeches. Disregarding the evidence presented and based on apparent pressure from Communist Party officials, he sentenced all seven practitioners to prison terms ranging from 28 months to seven years. Prior to the trial, he had reportedly already tried to pressure the practitioners to plead guilty, fire the human rights lawyers their families had hired, and accept court-appointed attorneys who would follow the Party line. The practitioners refused.
According to sources inside China, the practitioners plan to appeal the decision.
Details on the seven Falun Gong prisoners of conscience:
- Mr. Gu Huaibing, 35, married with teenage son, from Xinminshang city (7 years).
- Mr. Zhou Yaping, 39, from Shuangliu county, previously detained at a prison and brainwashing center for practicing Falun Gong, was shocked with electric batons behind his ears (2 years and four months).
- Mr. Liao Jiafu, fifties, was only released in December 2008 from eight years in a prison camp for practicing Falun Gong, had only been working at the computer store for a few days before his detention (2 years and six months)
- Mr. Zhao Haiping (3 years), 38, from Xiping township in Jiangyou city, previously held at a labor camp for practicing Falun Gong
- Mr. Wang Hongbo (3 years), 39, from Qionglai city, was detained previously for short stints and badly beaten in custody for practicing Falun Gong
- Mr. Wang Jianguo (3 years), from Ziyang city.
- Ms. Li Xiaoyan (3 years), from Ziyang city.
Police and Plainclothes Officers Swarm the Courthouse
Apparently fearing that friends and family of the seven practitioners might gather near the courthouse on the day of the trial to challenge their mistreatment by the authorities, a large police presence was organized around the courthouse. On August 25, the day before the court session, police installed monitoring devices to videotape pedestrian traffic on the street outside the Wuhou District Court. On August 26, the day of the trial, police and plainclothes officers, including agents of the extralegal 610 Office (analysis), swarmed the courthouse and surrounding areas. Two police cars parked outside the courthouse, while plainclothes officers went into the nearby teahouse to check that there were no Falun Gong practitioners there intending to express their support for the seven being unfairly tried.
Family Denied Access to “Public Trial,” Lawyers Not Notified
The Wuhou District Court claimed the trial was open to the public, but in practice, they only allowed one family member of each practitioner to enter the courtroom. Other family members were not allowed to attend the trial. About eight family members of Mr. Gu, including his son, wanted to attend the trial, but to no avail, as only his wife was permitted to enter.
The court did not notify the practitioners’ attorneys about the date of the court hearing. The lawyer for Ms. Li (the only female of the seven) learned about the trial only from her family. When he called the court, staff told him they had appointed another attorney for her. He showed up at the trial anyway, alongside Ms. Li’s family, pressuring the judge to ultimately grant his request to represent his client.
Practitioners Tortured in Custody
During the hearing, the practitioners reported to the court that they had been tortured during interrogation. Mr. Gu Huaibing relayed how he and Mr. Liao Jianfu had been taken to a location somewhere in Cuqiao on August 4, 2009, about two weeks after their abduction. He described being tied to a metal window and being prevented from sleeping by the “investigating officers” Wang Pengfei and Wang Li, who poured water over him and jabbed him with a stick to keep him awake. Mr. Gu recounted that the next day he was tied to the window again and punched in the chest. The pair were held at that location and tortured for a total of four days, until August 7. Mr. Liao Jianfu, Mr. Wang Jianguo and other practitioners also described to the court various forms of torture they suffered in custody.
Attorney Proves Police Evidence was Fabricated
One of the attorneys representing the practitioners challenged the prosecution’s case by proving that evidence they presented was clearly falsified. For example, although the practitioners were detained only on the evening of July 21, the list of alleged materials confiscated by the police was dated July 8, indicating that it had been fabricated and drawn up in advance of the detention in order to frame the practitioners.
Below are some of the people involved in the case:
Huang Yi, trial judge: +86-28-85118193
Qi Peijia, court reporter: +86-28-85118203
Yu Jiachuan, president of Wuhou District Court: +86-28-82006333, +86-13540284886 (Cell)
Wuhou District Police Sub-Bureau: +86-28-86406628
Tiaosanta Police Station: +86-28-85222200
Wuhou District Political and Judiciary Committee: +86-28-85558685