A married couple in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province was convicted for their spiritual faith. The husband died while awaiting an appeal hearing, and the wife was not allowed to attend his funeral or be visited by their two sons or her lawyer.
Mr. Wei Qishan and his wife, Ms. Yu Shurong, were arrested on June 12, 2018, after police suspected them of putting up banners about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The couple was sentenced to prison, with Mr. Wei receiving seven years and Ms. Yu four years. They appealed to the Qinhuangdao City Intermediate Court, which has yet to schedule a hearing of their cases. Ms. Yu remains at Qinhuangdao City Detention Center, where her husband died.
Mr. Wei’s two sons received calls from the Qinhuangdao City Detention Centre at around 9:20 p.m. on November 23, 2019, and were told that their father was dying in Qinhuangdao City People's Hospital.
As both sons live away from their hometown, they called their aunt, Ms. Yu's sister, and asked her to go to the hospital to check on their father.
Ten minutes later, the police called Mr. Wei’s sons again and informed them that Mr. Wei had just passed away.
Mr. Wei’s sister-in-law rushed to the hospital and saw his body, which was still on a stretcher but not in the emergency room. It was not clear whether he had been given emergency resuscitation at the hospital at all.
She also noted that Mr. Wei's eyes were half-open. His right arm was hanging down and his right sleeve was completely wet. She rolled his sleeve half away up and saw his right arm was completely black and purple.
A guard surnamed Zhao claimed that Mr. Wei fell around 8 p.m. that night while using the restroom. His head hit the concrete ground and he lost consciousness afterward. The medical staff at the detention center performed CPR on him. When he didn’t regain consciousness, they took him to the hospital for emergency treatment, but Mr. Wei subsequently died at the hospital.
Around 10 p.m., more than 10 police officers came and took Mr. Wei’s body to a funeral home. His sister-in-law tried to stop them but was pushed aside. She wasn’t allowed to accompany the body to the funeral home.
Wife Denied Right to Receive Visitors
Mr. Wei's two sons returned to Qinhuangdao the day after their father's death. They went to the detention centre and requested that their mother be temporarily released so she could host their father’s funeral. The guards rejected their request and referred them to the procuratorate.
The prosecutor, however, said that he was no longer in charge of their parents' cases and directed them to the Qinhuangdao City Intermediate Court.
The sons went to the intermediate court. Judge Zhang Shuangjian in charge of the cases refused to meet with them. They then asked their parents' lawyer to visit their mother in the detention centre as they were not sure if she had been informed of their father's death.
The detention centre refused to grant the lawyer a meeting with Ms. Yu and said that her case had already been closed by the intermediate court. The lawyer demanded to know when her case was closed, but he got no answer and was instead told that he could only visit Ms. Yu after she is transferred to prison.
Just days before Mr. Wei’s death, judge Zhang had promised to give the lawyer three months to prepare documents for his clients' appeal cases.
Suspecting foul play from the detention centre, Mr. Wei’s sons went to the intermediate court again. This time, judge Zhang answered their call and agreed to accept the documents for their parents' appeal case. He sent a clerk to the lobby to take the materials without meeting Mr. Wei's sons in person.
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