On April 27, 2007, at an appeal hearing at the Intermediate Court, Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China, six attorneys from Beijing presented oral argument on behalf of a family of three Falun Gong practitioners. The three Falun Gong practitioners had been tried and sentenced for "sabotaging the administration of law" by practicing Falun Gong. Attorneys representing the Falun Gong practitioners appealed the judgment and the sentence.
The case was unusual in that Falun Gong practitioners are prohibited from having legal representation.
According to the Falun Gong website Minghui.net, the hearing at the courtroom started at 8:30 a.m. and ended at approximately 1:40 p.m. Mr. Li Heping, an attorney from the Gao Bo Long Hua Law Firm made oral argument on behalf of the defense team representing the family.
The three family members, Wang Bo (daughter), Liu Shuqing (mother), and Wang Xinzhong (father) are Falun Gong practitioners. They were imprisoned at a forced labor camp for three years and finally reunited in 2005. On the evening of July 27, 2006, Wang Bo (a graduate of a conservatory) and her mother were arrested in Dalian City. The father was arrested the next day. They were tried on November 10, 2006, at the Shijiazhuang Changan District Court, where they were allowed no legal representation. On February 2, 2007, Wang Bo was sentenced to five years in prison; her mother and father each received a sentence of four years in prison.
Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that includes physical exercise and meditation, and is based on the principle of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance. The Chinese communist regime banned the practice in July 1999 and launched a systematic persecution that is still going on today. The Chinese authorities had always prohibited attorneys from representing Falun Gong. Whenever an attorney took Falun Gong cases and pled "not guilty," his license was suspended. For example, Guo Guoting, an international maritime law attorney in Shanghai, represented Zhai Yanlai, a 26-year-old young man who was sentenced to five years on charges of being a Faun Gong practitioner. Guo was arrested and later exiled to Canada. Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Beijing attorney, who wrote open letters to Chinese communist leaders urging an end to the persecution of Falun Gong, was later arrested, tortured, sentenced to five years in prison, and is now under house arrest where he is kept virtually incommunicado.
For the first time, attorneys representing Falun Gong practitioners broke the government’s ban and presented a not-guilty argument in court. As reported by Minghui.net, at the April 27 hearing the defense team argued that the court erred in finding their clients guilty. The defense argued that the law that the trial court applied is not applicable to the case at hand. Further, the defense argued that the trial court judgment was made based on ambiguous facts, insufficient evidence, and procedural errors.
Attorney Li reiterated that exercising the right of freedom of belief does not constitute a crime.
The presiding Judge, Liu Ping, asked if practicing Falun Gong is covered by the freedom of religion provisions of the law. Attorney Li answered, "Yes." In response, Judge Liu commented that Attorney Li had "a problem in ideology."
Yue Kunlun from the Shijiazhuang Intermediate Procurator Office introduced the evidence against the defendants. It consisted of a CD showing a prominent Chinese historian lecturing on Chinese history, the Great Wall, and the Yangtze River. No actual evidence against Falun Gong or against these three defendants was ever introduced.
When the family of Falun Gong practitioners read their statements, the court staff repeatedly interrupted them. Their statements revealed details about the police brutality inflicted upon them and about the lower court’s abuse of the justice system.
According to The Epoch Times, while the court hearing was going on, the court and the neighboring streets were heavily guarded. At times there were up to 600 policemen on the scene.
The hearing was open to anyone who obtained a pass the day before the hearing. Twenty-seven passes were issued. However, the day before the hearing, the police threatened and arrested some of those who had obtained a pass. Right before the hearing, a judge in the audience instructed the police to reduce the number of people who were in the audience. The police then dragged three Falun Gong women out of the courtroom and arrested them. Attorneys protested to the presiding judge, who ignored their protest.
It was reported that there were all together eight people in the audience who did not work for the government. The rest were judges, government officials, the police, and the government TV crew.
At the close of the hearing, Teng Biao, a prominent legal scholar and attorney representing the Falun Gong practitioners, was removed from the courtroom, kicked, beaten, and thrown into the street.
According to Radio Free Asia, the attorneys representing Wang Bo (daughter) are Li Heping and Li Xionbing from the Gao Bo Long Hua Law Firm. Teng Biao from the Hua Yi Law Firm and Hu Hongbin from the Hai Ming Law Firm represent Liu Shuqing (mother). Zhang Huili and Li Shunzhang from Guo Gang Law Firm represent Wang Xinzhong (father).
Xiao Tian is a correspondent for Chinascope.