July 16, 2015 | By a Minghui correspondent in Heilongjiang Province, China
(Minghui.org) Aimin District Court in Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province recently held its sixth hearing of two men in their retrial for refusing to renounce their belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual practice currently being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
Mr. Zhang Yutang and Mr. Guan Ri’an were sentenced by the same court in June 2014, but a higher court overturned the verdict and ordered the case be retried.
There was evidence indicating that both men had been drugged during their fourth hearing to render them unable to defend themselves. In the latest hearing, the two practitioners were brutalized during the courtroom session.
Mr. Zhang Yutang
Mr. Guan Ri an
Both Men Immobilized and Brutalized
The court immobilized the two practitioners in specially-made chairs. Their bodies were sandwiched between a reinforced metal board and the back of the chair, which was mobile. When one of the practitioners protested during the trial, the a police officer would forcibly push the back of his chair forward; the impact would render the practitioner unable to speak.
The court officers also handcuffed and shackled the practitioners. Mr. Guan’s wrists bled continuously because one cuff cut into his flesh. Mr. Zhang, 62, had long had stroke symptoms, which were aggravated by torture he suffered before the trial. He vomited multiple times during the trial, but the court ignored his condition.
The presiding judge, Ji Ming, frequently interrupted the defense lawyers and their cross-examination. Ji also repeatedly spoke on behalf of the prosecutor.
Only one member of each practitioner’s family was allowed to attend the supposedly open trial on June 29 and 30. Instead, the gallery was packed with police and agents from the 610 Office.
Secretly Sentenced, Verdict Overturned
The two practitioners were last arrested in April 2014. They were incarcerated in Mudanjiang No. 2 Detention Center pending trial. Three months later, when Mr. Guan’s lawyer went to the Aimin District Court to ask about the trial, two judges denied any knowledge of the trial and involvement in the case.
Officials in the Department of Case Registrations also denied the existence of the case. The lawyer then met with Mr. Guan in the detention center, only to find out that he and Mr. Zhang had been secretly tried on June 11 without any legal representation. The lawyers appealed, and on September 5 the Mudanjiang Intermediate Court overturned the sentence and sent the case back to Aimin Court.
Retrial: No Verdict After Six Hearings
Earlier in the retrial, the court twice postponed the hearings without notice to the defendants’ families and lawyers. This tactic is often used in Falun Gong cases to obstruct lawyers from representing practitioners.
During their fourth hearing on February 13, 2015, the practitioners’ drinking water provided by the court was allegedly drugged, and they couldn’t think or speak clearly. Ms. Zhang suffered a severe headache in the trial. Mr. Guan, who was standing in the morning, returned in the afternoon in a wheelchair.
Now that the sixth hearing was concluded, no verdict has been issued for the two practitioners, who remain detained.
Two Practitioners Secretly Tried Without Legal Representation; Court Denies Trial Ever Took Place
Judge Obstructs Defense by Blocking Access to Case Files
Court Suspected of Drugging Defendants During Trial
New Evidence Indicates Falun Gong Defendants May Have Been Drugged During Trials
Category: Accounts of Persecution