(Minghui.org) Mr. Xu Yongfan's family pressured him to drop his lawyers after the local authorities promised to release him within three days of the trial's conclusion. Instead, he was sentenced to seven years in August 2015 for possessing materials exposing the persecution of Falun Gong.

In a desperate effort to get him home, Mr. Xu's loved ones fell prey to the authorities' deceit again. They spent a fortune on court officials who promised a sentence reversal, only to see the higher court uphold the original verdict without a hearing.

Mr. Xu, a Falun Gong practitioner from Qinhuangdao City in Hebei Province, was recently transferred to Hancheng Prison from the Qinglong County Detention Center, where he was held since his arrest more than one year ago.

Mr. Xu was illegally arrested on Novenmber15, 2014 after police found copies of 2015 calendars and brochures with information about Falun Gong in a truck he rented. The police also searched and ransacked his rented place, and confiscated many personal belongings without a search warrant.

Family Deceived into Pressuring Mr. Xu to Drop Lawyers

The Qinglong County Court scheduled an illegal trial of Mr. Xu at 9:00 am on April 9, 2014 without notifying his family and his defense lawyer. His family found out only when they visited Mr. Xu at the detention center the day before the trial.

In view of the extremely short notice, his lawyers contacted the court and asked if the court session could be postponed, but got no reply.

On the day of the hearing, the courthouse was surrounded by about 50 uniformed and plainclothes police. Only three of Mr. Xu's family members were allowed into the courtroom. The court blocked the two defense lawyers from entering the courtroom, when they refused to comply with the security check. By law, lawyers are exempt from security checks required of the general public.

While Mr. Xu's lawyers complained about the illegal security check, the court and police from the Domestic Security Division, as well as personnel from the local 610 Office tricked his family members into believing that dismissing his lawyers would do him good. They threatened to give Mr. Xu a heavier sentence if the family involved defense lawyers, but promised to release him within three days of the trial's conclusion if they dismissed the lawyers.

Eager to get him home, Mr. Xu's family members tried to talk him into dropping his lawyers, but he refused.

Barred from attending the trial, his lawyers went back to the detention center to wait for their client.

Mr. Xu was taken back to the detention center around midday. Desperate to get their loved one back home early, his family members went to the detention center to ask Mr. Xu to dismiss his lawyers. Under pressure from his family, Mr. Xu signed the paper to dismiss his lawyers.

While the 610 Office forced his family members to dismiss his lawyers, they asked Mr. Xu's family to pay 3,000 yuan, which was for hiring lawyers brought in by the authorities. This turned out to be an empty promise, as no legal counsel was hired.

Sentenced to Seven Years Without Legal Representation

The court held a second hearing on April 30, 2015, with only his family members present and a few police officers. The prosecutor presented fabricated evidence, and the court rushed through the motions without issuing a verdict.

Mr. Xu and his family received the verdict three months later, on August 4, 2015 – seven years in prison.

Higher Court Upholds Sentence Without a Hearing

Mr. Xu and his family appealed against the unlawful sentence. The Intermediate Court of Qinhuangdao ignored the facts, and decided to uphold the unlawful original sentence without holding a hearing.

Mr. Xu is still in jail. His family has paid over 50,000 yuan to officials in trying to get him released, but without any success.

His 83-year-old mom is heartbroken and often breaks out in tears. She said, “I don't understand. My son is a good and honest person, but he is suffering persecution. Is there any law in China? I will seek justice as long as I live.”

Related reports:Police Try to Fabricate Evidence by Pressuring One Practitioner to Accuse AnotherHebei Practitioner Arrested for Possession of Falun Gong Materials