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STERLING HEIGHTS, Michigan (LifeSiteNews) — A friend of jailed pro-lifer Heather Idoni and co-defendant in a Michigan FACE Act trial told LifeSiteNews that U.S. marshals paraded Idoni in full shackles into federal court as if the mother of five and adoptive mother of 10 were a dangerous criminal to the shock of those present, including the judge.

Calvin Zastro, who has been charged along with Idoni of violating the pro-abortion FACE (Freedom to Access Clinic Entrances) Act in a Michigan case for participating in a traditional pro-life rescue, told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview that he witnessed Idoni marched into federal court with shackles around her wrists, waist, and feet in a humiliation ordinarily reserved for perpetrators of violent crime.

WATCH: BREAKING | Biden DOJ Accused of Brutal Treatment of Jailed Pro-Lifer — Prolonged Solitary, Shackles

Zastro said that, far from deserving such harsh treatment, Idoni and her husband have heroically adopted 10 boys from the Ukraine in addition to the five children they already had. He affirmed that Idoni, a devout Christian, is a woman of strong faith and a “very loving mother, grandmother, friend.” He said she is loved and missed by her family and friends, who are praying for her daily during her imprisonment for defending the unborn.

Idoni has told LifeSiteNews that her faith has sustained her during her time behind bars and that she tries to witness to Christ even in prison. She said she has “never not felt His presence” and characterized her eight months of incarceration as “immersion prison ministry.”

Idoni is also a defendant in the Washington, D.C. FACE Act trials and told LifeSiteNews that she has also been subjected to 22 days of solitary confinement, beyond the 15-day limit of the U.N.’s Nelson Mandela Rules. In an exclusive interview, she said that she received this punishment for sharing food with fellow prisoners. Idoni alleged that she was allowed to walk outside her cell only for two hours in the middle of the night each day and that the lights of her cell were continually kept on. Idoni has been in prison since she was convicted last autumn.

READ: Pro-lifers worldwide urged to write to judge who will sentence FACE Act prisoners  

The U.N. document on international rules for the humane treatment of prisoners, titled United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), prohibits solitary confinement “in excess of 15 consecutive days” (Rule 44), deeming it “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The Nelson Mandela Rules (Rule 43) also forbid the “(p)lacement of a prisoner in a dark or constantly lit cell.”

Idoni’s lawyer, Robert Dunn, told LifeSiteNews that although the jail may be entitled to its own rules, “they should conform” to the international standards set forth in the Mandela Rules.

Meanwhile, according to the International Justice Resource Center, international case law holds that humiliating a prisoner, including detainment in leg irons and handcuffs, can qualify as torture or inhumane treatment, and a violation of dignity.

The full interview with Calvin Zastro follows below.

LSN: Cal, you are a friend of Heather’s. You have done pro-life rescues with her and are a fellow co-defendant in the Michigan FACE Act trial, in which you have both been convicted of conspiracy and violation of FACE. So you saw Heather when she appeared in court for that case. Can you tell us what you witnessed, what happened, and how she was treated?

Calvin Zastro: This year on March 20th, we had a pre-trial hearing and motions hearing, in the United States vs. Zastro and alia case, the rescue case there. All of us but one are out on bond. One person is currently incarcerated, and that’s Heather Idoni, and she has not seen her husband face to face for seven months now.

And so the federal marshals would not let us drop off her court room street clothes; they wouldn’t take those. And so they made her appear in jail clothes. And also she had handcuffs, she had a waist chain, and she also had her wrist chained to that waist chain, so she couldn’t move. And then she also had ankle shackles on, so she could only scooch with her feet. She couldn’t walk far because of the ankle chains and jail clothes. So that’s how she appeared, and (in) jail slippers. Thats how she appeared in court before the judge on March 20th this year.

And she walked into the [Detroit] courtroom, beaming and smiling with the joy of the Lord when she saw her Christian supporters and co-defendants. It was a great blessing. We all smiled big for Heather. And then she saw her husband and some of her family and that gave her great joy, too.

And then the judge [Judge Matthew Leitman] saw that she was shackled in that way, and he ordered the U.S. Marshals, “Marshals, unshackle that defendant now.” And one of the marshals, without looking at the judge, barked — he didn’t say, “Your honor,” or “Yes, sir,” — he said, “Well, I’ll just do one arm,” very disrespectfully. And then the judge barked back at the marshal and said, “No, you do both right now.” The marshal did and went over and undid the handcuffs that were (chained) to Heather’s waist so that Heather could write on her notebook at the table.

LSN: So did they leave the shackles on her feet and waist?

Zastro: Yeah, they left her through that for court, even though it was unnecessary. That’s what the marshals wanted to do. And the judge ordered the marshals to allow her to appear in street clothes at the trial. So now we have a court order for that, much to the marshals’ chagrin, because that means they have to go through an extra couple minutes of work and allow her to go change out of her jail jumpsuit into a nice dress and street clothes for the trial. That’s a hassle for them, and they don’t like hassles, they like running the show. That’s what I observed, and that’s what I heard on March 20th of this year.

LSN: How customary is it for prisoners to be brought in shackles?

Zastro: That’s very common where they bring people that just got arrested the night before and go see the judge: that’s common there. Non-violent federal criminal trials: that is not common. That’s not how they do it.

LSN: Do you think that the marshal was doing this at all because he knew the charges that have been brought against her? Or do you think this was contempt of a prisoner? What do you think was going on with as far as his reason why?

Zastro: I don’t know, I’ve never seen that marshal before, but he clearly had a cocky attitude and was trying to appear as a macho man. That’s how he appeared to be.

Finally, when the hearing was over, I was standing at the end of the table, and Heather was across the table. And that marshal came and was ready to chain Heather back up, lock her wrist back up and take his prisoner. So he was standing right next to me, and I just turned and looked at him, and I said, “Sir, this woman and her husband have rescued 10 boys from Ukraine and adopted them. They’re heroes.” And the marshal looked at me, he didn’t smile, he didn’t frown, he didn’t say anything. Then he grabbed his prisoner and got her wrists in her cuffs and marched her out.

During the hearing and before the hearing started, some of us had family pictures and updated prints of pictures that we had in little 10-page photo albums. And we slid those over to whoever sat next to Heather. So those people looked at family pictures before (the) court started, so that Heather could look over and see them too and see fresh pictures of people: her friends and loved ones. And that was a great blessing and encouragement to Heather. And we’ll do that again.

LSN: That’s very beautiful. From prison, how often is Heather able to speak with her own family members?

Zastro: She can call her husband every day just about, if she’s not in transit. Sometimes when she’s in transit, she’s not able to make any phone calls. But almost every day she calls her husband whenever she can, and other people periodically.

LSN: You said she has rescued 10 children from the Ukraine?

Zastro: She and her husband have adopted, rescued 10 Ukrainian boys. The youngest is 18 now.

LSN: And how many of their own children do they have?

Zastro: They had five, and those kids are all grown too. A couple of the boys still live at home. They help with the grandkids, too. They got a couple little grandkids that need a little help. So, Heather is greatly loved and greatly missed.

LSN: It sounds like her house is very full and active with her own children, adopted children, and her grandchildren.

Zastro: Yes, very, very full with that.

LSN: So, in no way is she a dangerous, violent criminal from which society needs to be protected? She sounds like a very loving mother and grandmother, full of life.

Zastro: Yes, Heather is a very loving mother, grandmother, friend, very full of life, a tremendous servant to her family, her community, and she’s very, very peaceful. She’s committed to peace, not to do violence against other people.

LifeSiteNews’ extensive coverage of the D.C. Face Act trials can be found here.


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