(Minghui.org) Agents from the 610 Office arrested 12 Benxi City Falun Gong practitioners for gathering and possessing Falun Gong literature. The practitioners were charged with “using a cult organization to sabotage law enforcement,” a false accusation commonly used by the Chinese communist regime to persecute Falun Gong.

Freedom of belief is actually guaranteed by the Chinese constitution.

The practitioners were detained and tortured for at least 16 months before they were tried separately between August and October 2014. One of them died in detention, and another was paralyzed as a result of the torture.

Eight of the practitioners were handed sentences of between two and eight years in October 2014. The results of two cases are unverified as of this writing.

Although 10 practitioners filed appeals with the Benxi Intermediate Court, the judge upheld the original sentences. The practitioners are being held in Benxi City Detention Center.

Judge Bing Niting told the families, “From the arrest, the trial, and all the way to sentencing on all Falun Gong cases, the 610 Office makes the call. Court proceedings are merely formalities.”

The 610 Office operates in all regions of China and supersedes local authorities and the judicial system. Answering directly to the Communist Party’s Central Committee, it is charged with eradicating the practice of Falun Gong by any means, however brutal.

Ms. Wang Xiuyan was sentenced to eight years in prison; Ms. Ma Yuxiang to seven years; Ms. Yu Lixin to five years; Ms. Li Yan, Mr. Gao Gang, and Ms. Zhang Meizhen to three and a half years each; Ms. Sun Yuxia to three years; and Ms. Wang Xiulian to two years.

Mr. Li Chunzheng died from torture, and Mr. Gao Chong was paralyzed. Ms. Li Xin and Mr. Liu Shiye's cases are as yet unverified.