(Minghui.org) Police in Liangzhou District, Wuwei City attempted to force nine Falun Gong practitioners' families to dismiss their lawyers. Officers repeatedly threatened and detained the family members, and tried to pressure a school principal to expel an exemplary student.
The practitioners were arrested for their beliefs, and have been illegally detained for nine months. They now face trial at Liangzhou District Court.
Twelve practitioners were arrested on June 19th, 2014. They were Zhao Zongcheng, Tai Meihua, He Cunmei, Cao Shengjun, Xu Jinbiao, Lei Penghe, Bai Qunying, Wu Jiamiao, Wu Lanfang, Zhao Cuilan, Zhang Wenjuan, and Zhang Wenyan. The last three were released on bail.
Zhao Zongcheng's family detained for hiring lawyer
Zhao Zongcheng's family and his lawyer tried to visit him in the detention centre on August 18th, 2014. They were told to wait for approval from the 6-10 Office, and to hand over their IDs for photocopying and verification. They waited for more than three hours at the detention centre.
Court officers later told them repeatedly to dismiss their lawyer from Beijing, and hire a local lawyer. The family pointed out that local lawyers shied away from Falun Gong cases for fear of retaliation by the government.
To pressure the family into dismissing their lawyer, police detained Mr Zhao's daughter and daughter-in-law for two days.
Obstacles in hiring lawyer
Lawyers representing the other practitioners also encountered interference from detention centre and court staff.
Practitioner Lei Penghe worked as a guard at Wuwei City No. 3 Prison. His mother hired a lawyer for him. Her son-in-law Yu Zhong is the deputy director of Dongguan Police Station. Afraid that his career would be adversely affected, Yu tried to force his mother-in-law not to hire a lawyer for Mr Lei.
Yu also threatened to arrest practitioner Cao Shengjun's wife, and lied that he may be released during the hearing if she dismissed the lawyer. Agents from the 6-10 Office also attempted to intimidate the school administration to expel Mr Cao's son, but the principal and head teacher refused to expel an outstanding student.