Epoch Times (07 Jun 07)
11 Jun 07
The Singapore Subordinate Court began a case against five Falun Gong practitioners for an alleged “Assembly Without Permit” that took place on October 22, 2005 at the Orchard Road Underpass. The hearing started officially on June 4, 2007.
The defense asked to have all charges dropped on the basis of insufficient evidence, but the prosecution refused.
After the prosecution presented its case, the weakness of the evidence was apparent. The judge, despite the paucity of evidence, ruled that the charges were sufficiently supported.
The defendants expressed great disappointment, and chose not to take the stand to testify. The trial thus came to a premature end on June 5. The judge postponed announcing a verdict until the afternoon of June 7.
According to previous reports by The Epoch Times, on October 22, 2005, several Falun Gong practitioners handed out truth clarification flyers at the Orchard Road Underpass in downtown area.
In July 2006, when Li Lanqing, a chief architect of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, came to visit Singapore, five Falun Gong practitioners were charged in court with “Assembly Without Permit.”
Over the past 20 months, the case has gone through numerous court proceedings. The defendants have persisted in pleading not guilty.
Prosecution cannot prove where individuals were
According to Singapore’s laws regarding “Illegal Assembly,” the prosecution must demonstrate that the five charged Falun Gong practitioners organized an assembly between the hours of 1:50 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on October 22, 2005 at the “Orchard Road Underpass.”
The prosecution is depending upon a set of sixteen photographs plus the testimony of three police officers to prove its case.
The 16 photos are the only hard evidence that the prosecution has offered. However, the photos fail to establish the facts of the case. Some of the flaws pointed out by the defense:
• None of the photos show the five defendants together;
• None of the photos are date- or time-stamped;
The photo marked “Photo A” shows the Orchard Road Bypass, but none of the people in the photograph are Falun Gong adherents, nor are any of the defendants in the photo.
Though the five defendants are not legally trained, they are conducting their own defenses. They pointed out the inconsistencies in the photo evidence. The prosecution responded that it was presenting evidence, specifically the police officers’ testimony, to support the photos.
In prosecution Photo G, more than five people walk in the same general area. The prosecution calls this evidence of an “Unlawful Assembly.”
The defendants then pointed out that the police officers were not able to pick out which people in the crowd were Falun Gong practitioners.
Defense witnesses testified that while there were people in the crowd in Photo A that were distributing flyers, these people were not Falun Gong practitioners.
The police incorrectly identified on lady in the crowd as a Falun Gong adherent, but in fact, the lady was not. This undermined the police officers’ testimony.
Prosecution hides the video record
The prosecution presented no other evidence or testimony to buttress its case, despite having announced earlier that it would be using videotape of the event as its sole evidence.
The Singapore police videotaped as well as photographed the events of October 22. The prosecution had announced that this video would be the only evidence it would be presenting in court.
The defendants’ request for a copy of this video was rejected. Then the defendants made arrangements to view the original videotape at the police station.
However, the prosecutor withdrew the videotape from evidence and announced he would be proceeding with photographic evidence alone.
Accused Falun Gong practitioner Shen Jian demanded in court that the videotape be re-entered into evidence. She said, “The photos do not have any record of the time they were taken; they cannot prove anything.”
The other defendants supported her demand.
The judge, seeing the inadequacy of the prosecution’s photographic evidence, stated that she found the defendants’ demand reasonable. But the DPP insisted on not using the video as evidence.
The judge and the DPP debated the issue at length, with the judge eventually acceding to the DPP’s decision not to use the tape. The following are part of the conversation heard by the reporter in court:
Judge Amy Tung: Why do you reject their application for the video?
DPP Hay Hung Chun: It would be fine if they just accepted it, did not raise any questions, and kept silent after we presented the video evidence. But as we have experienced in the “October 23” case, we know that this will be a very tedious and unpleasant matter. They will ask many questions (about the video) and ask to watch it many times.
Judge: Being afraid of trouble can’t be a reason for the refusal.
DPP: Then they must say why the video is necessary and what good does it do to them? As I view it, the video can only prove that they were at the scene.
Judge: There are no dates and times on the photos. If the video evidence has [dates and times], won’t it be even better to have it as evidence?
DPP: Other than the photos, there is other evidence. We have witnesses’ testimony; they all saw the defendants were at the scene. In short, we do not intend to provide the video.
The Judge finally decided that the prosecution did not have to provide the video.
Defendants disappointed, decline to testify
After the prosecution witnesses finished testifying, the judge ruled that the original charge would stand.
She announced that the prosecution was finished providing evidence, and explained to the defendants that, “The trial now is going to enter the second section, the section wherein the defense offers its evidence. You can choose to testify from the witness stand, address the prosecution the prosecution and be cross-examined. Or you can choose to keep silent. If you choose not to provide evidence, the judge will make a final decision according to the evidence presented.”
All defendants were greatly disappointed that the judge apparently ignored the facts and hastily made her decision. They decided to give up the opportunity to provide evidence.
After that, the court proceeded directly to closing statements. Several defendants once again pointed out the loopholes in the prosecution’s evidence, and believed that the prosecution’s failure to provide evidence was an indisputable fact.
One of the defendants, 68-year-old Singapore citizen Mr. Chai Yongshui said, “This is not a so-called criminal case, but a political persecution.
“I’m a Singapore citizen, I enjoy the freedom of belief, freedom of speech and right that everybody is equal in front of the law. I have done nothing wrong; it is because the case is politically motivated that I have been charged.
“In Singapore, knowing the facts but not reporting them is an offence. I know the persecution is happening in China, I should let everybody know this fact. This is reasonable and legal in Singapore.”
After that, the DPP made an oral submission at the request of the judge. The defendants did not have the opportunity to respond to his closing statement, as the judge called for an end to the day’s proceedings.
The judge postponed announcing the verdict until the afternoon of June 7.
Update: The five defendants were all found guilty and fined $1,000 each. They refused to pay the fine and were jailed for 7 days in default