February 21, 2014 | By a Minghui correspondent from Sichuan Province, China
(Minghui.org) Seven Falun Gong practitioners were tried for the third time at Mianyang City Intermediate Court on the morning of January 23, 2014, after having been illegally detained for more than 18 months.
Four lawyers from Beijing presented a strong defense for the practitioners. They asked the collegial panel and presiding judge to acquit the practitioners as there is no existing Chinese law under which they could be tried and found guilty.
The seven practitioners were: Mr. Ma Zisheng, Mr. Mu Zhitai, Mr. Tang Ming, Mr. Li Shuangquan, Ms. Ma Mingli, Ms. Ren Biying and Mr. Dai Changquan.
Mr. Ma Zisheng addressed the court during the trial. He said, “Falun Gong teaches people to live by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The police tortured me for two weeks trying to extort a confession. They knowingly broke the law. Therefore, they should be subject to legal action. I am a good person and should be acquitted.”
Mr. Mu Zhitai, Mr. Tang Ming and Mr. Li Shuangquan also made statements proclaiming their innocence.
Highlights of Lawyers’ Defense Arguments
The key points of the defense arguments were as follows:
First, the Chinese Constitution guarantees citizens’ freedom of belief. Therefore, Falun Gong practitioners have every right to practice their belief. Such right cannot be arbitrarily taken away by any government agency, including the judicial system.
Second, no Chinese law has never stipulated what kind of procedures should be used to define a cult religion and by what kind of government agencies. Although the Chinese Communist regime maintains a list of so-called cults, Falun Gong has not been named among them. As such, no court has been granted the authority to prosecute practitioners. Also, there is no law that could be used to prosecute practitioners.
Lastly, the practitioners’ faith in Falun Gong does not cause any bodily injury or physical harm to anyone. Therefore, there is no evidence that could be construed as causing substantial harm to society.
At the end of their closing arguments, the lawyers emphasized again that their clients committed no wrong and they urged the judge to make the acquittal decision.
Around 3:00 pm, presiding judge Liu Lei announced that the court was adjourned without giving any verdict.
The Mianyang police arrested the seven practitioners on July 6, 2012, and held them at a detention center. Defended by a lawyer from Beijing, they were tried at Peicheng District Court on March 1, 2013. The court adjourned without giving any verdict; yet their illegally detention continued.
The court handed out sentences at the second trial on November 12, 2013. Mr. Ma Zisheng was sentenced to a seven-year term, Mr. Li Shuangquan to five years, and Mr. Tang Ming and Mr. Mu Zhitai each to three years. Ms. Ma Mingli, Ms. Ren Biying, and Mr. Dai Changquan were all sentenced to three years, but their sentences were suspended for three years. All seven appealed.
Category: Accounts of Persecution