April 18, 2016 | By a Minghui correspondent from Shandong Province
(Minghui.org) A mother and her daughter were tried together for practicing and telling the public about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
Ms. Song Fangxia complained about dizziness multiple times during the two-day hearing on April 7 and 8 of this year. The 67-year-old mother from Linyi City has been suffering from severe symptoms of high blood pressure since she was taken into custody eight months ago.
By law, defendants with abnormal health conditions are unfit to stand trial. The judge, however, pressed on with the hearing despite the lawyer’s protest of his violations of legal procedure.
Judge Repeatedly Violates Procedure
Ms. Song’s blood pressure readings registered at 220/110 before the trial, but her lawyer’s request to have the hearing delayed was denied.
The lawyer proceeded to request that the judge be recused from the prosecution process, arguing that he had violated legal procedure. According to Chinese law, only the court president has the authority to issue a decision regarding recusal requests involving presiding judges. The judge declined the lawyer’s request without consulting the president.
Though the courtroom has a capacity of up to 40 people, only four of the defendants’ family members were allowed to attend the hearing. The judge ignored the lawyer’s protest of his unlawful limitation of family access to the trial.
Freedom of Belief
The lawyer rebutted the charges that his clients “used a cult to undermine law enforcement” and demanded their acquittal. He argued that there has been no law criminalizing Falun Gong, and that the persecution was illegal from the outset. He accused the procuratorate and the court of giving in to the 610 Office to prosecute his clients for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief.
The judge concluded the hearing without issuing a verdict. Both Ms. Song and her daughter Ms. Li Hui remain detained following their arrest on August 3, 2015.
Category: Accounts of Persecution