(Minghui.org) Lawyers defending five Falun Gong practitioners during a recent trial in Yunan Province pleaded not guilty on behalf of their clients, who had been arrested and beaten by police for producing and distributing literature exposing the Communist regime's persecution of Falun Gong.

The prosecutor charged the practitioners with “using a cult organization to sabotage law enforcement,” a line commonly used by the regime to sentence practitioners in its persecution campaign. The prosecutor cited seized Falun Gong books, Shen Yun DVDs, and copies of Minghui Weekly as evidence of the practitioners’ guilt.

The defense argued that practicing Falun Gong is protected by the Chinese Constitution, which guarantees freedom of belief, and that printing such materials is a basic right of citizens.

The practitioners' lawyers also noted that police admitted to beating handicapped practitioner Ms. Gao, who suffered a hip fracture in the assault. Officers had also deprived the detained practitioners of sleep and refused to allow visits from their lawyers, neither of which is legal. Finally, police did not show identification or an arrest warrant, making the arrests illegal.

The practitioners also spoke on their own behalf and demanded that the police return their seized property. Ms. Gao Cuilian, a retired military officer, told the judge how she benefited from practicing Falun Gong.

The majority of the 60 seats in the courtroom were occupied by court staff, 610 Office agents, and other officials. Only a few family members of the defendants were allowed to enter the courtroom. The trial was held at the Shiling County Court on December 9, 2014.