Judge Warns Defense Lawyers Against Pleading Not Guilty for Clients

The presiding judge in the trial of two Dandong City residents warned their lawyers before the trial, “It is no use to plead not guilty for your clients.”

Ms. Zhao Xuejing and Ms. Sun Lihao were arrested on May 12, 2017 for putting up banners with messages about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

The local procuratorate twice returned the case to police, on June 27, September 6, and November 16, 2017, respectively.

Du Guojun, head of the local domestic security office, refused to release Ms. Zhao and Ms. Sun. He managed to persuade the procuratorate to file indictments against the two Falun Gong practitioners.

Ms. Zhao and Ms. Sun appeared in court on January 19, 2018. Judge Ma Shuhe warned the defense lawyers days before the hearing that it was no use to enter not guilty pleas.

The two practitioners ended up testifying in their own defense.

They were charged with “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

Ms. Zhao and Ms. Sun argued that no law in China criminalises Falun Gong or labels it a cult. They pointed out that their putting up banners with Falun Gong messages caused no harm to anyone or society at large, much less undermine law enforcement.

They demanded their acquittal, and Ma adjourned the session without issuing a verdict.


Ms. Zhao in Precarious Condition

Ms. Zhao was found to have high blood pressure on the night of her arrest. The local detention centre refused to take her, but one officer said, “Even if she dies, she must do it at the detention centre!”

She further developed heart problems during her detention. Three times she lost consciousness and had to be resuscitated.

Her family visited the local police station many times and also wrote to the procuratorate demanding her release. No one addressed their requests, and Ms. Zhao was still made to stand trial.

Her loved ones noted that she needed help walking into the courtroom and that she appeared extremely weak. The other practitioner, Ms. Sun, looked much thinner after just a few months of detention. Both women were handcuffed and shackled during the hour-long court session.

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