(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Liu Haohui was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Zhaoyuan City Court on September 5, 2016, for distributing Shen Yun Performing Arts DVDs.

He has appealed the verdict, and the deadline of the appeal hearing is December 28. However, the Yantai City Intermediate Court has not responded to the request for an appeal, nor set a hearing date.

Mr. Liu was charged with “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement,” a generic charge used by the Chinese Communist Party to imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

Mr. Liu's family asked judge Yu Wenbo of the Yantai Intermediate Court about the case on December 12. The family also gave the judge a petition, asking for Mr. Liu's release, with 2,092 signatures from residents of Zhaoyuan.

According to Mr. Liu's family, the judge repeatedly claimed that it is a crime for Falun Gong practitioners to distribute materials about the spiritual practice. He concurred that practitioners were good people, but claimed that they had been fooled and exploited by those with “ulterior motives.” He ridiculed Falun Gong and refused to accept the petition, claiming it was irrelevant to the case. He also said that the original sentence would most likely be upheld, but the final decision would depend on the higher-ranking authorities.

Mr. Liu's family is concerned that the judge might uphold the original sentence without a hearing.

Home and Shops Ransacked

Mr. Liu and his wife Ms. Du Wenli both have shops in Zhaoyuan, and were arrested at their businesses by officers from the Zhaoyuan Domestic Security Division on August 21, 2015.

Police ransacked their both premises and their home several times. They confiscated computers, printers, Falun Dafa books, bank cards, cash, and many other personal belongings. They also confiscated items from the couple's antique collection.

Ms. Du was released on bail on September 3, 2015, while Mr. Liu is held at the Zhaoyuan Detention Center.

Attorney Threatened

Mr. Liu's family hired an attorney in January 2016 who visited the Zhaoyuan Procuratorate several times over the next four months, but was always denied access to the case files.

On April 25, the prosecutor told the attorney to come back in the afternoon. When he did, he was told that Mr. Liu's case had been submitted to the court. The attorney filed complaints against the prosecutor and exposed the incident on his microblog.

The attorney went to the detention center to meet Mr. Liu on May 23, 2016, but was denied visiting rights. The attorney again filed complaints and exposed the incident on his microblog.

Officials from the Shandong Province Justice Bureau, Zhaoyuan Police Department, Zhaoyuan Court, Yantai Police Department and other governmental departments threatened the attorney, and told him to remove the posts from his microblog.

When the attorney refused, they told him that if he showed up in Zhaoyuan again they would arrest him. Mr. Liu's case had to be handed over to another attorney.

Mr. Liu was tried at Zhaoyuan City Court on June 22, 2016. Only two of his family members were allowed to observe the trial. Mr. Liu was in handcuffs and shackles during the trial. His attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf and asked that Mr. Liu be acquitted immediately.

Parties involved in the persecution of Mr. Liu:Zhou Tianjun (周天军), deputy general procurator at Zhaoyuan City Procuratorate: +86-535-8080006 (Office), +86-13864500001 (Cell)Zhi Xiaoying (郅晓英), procurator at Zhaoyuan Procuratorate: +86-18353502616, +86-535-3012532Peng Guidong (彭桂东), president of Zhaoyuan City Court: 86-18653512597 (Cell)Liu Yongwen (刘永文), vice presiding judge of Zhaoyuan Court: +86-18660539233 (Cell)Yu Wenbo (于文波), judge at Yantao City Intermediate Court: +86-5356676072 (Office), +86-18865681321 (Cell)