(Minghui.org) Six Falun Gong practitioners in Hengshui City, Hebei Province were recently sentenced to various prison terms and fined tens of thousands of yuan by Taocheng District Court for practicing Falun Gong.

The sentencing was a result of two court hearings and ranged from one and a half to nine years in prison, although these practitioners had already been detained for over two years. Among them, Mr. Dong Huaxin was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 30,000 yuan.

Mr. Dong and his wife were arrested on August 20, 2015. Mr. Peng Litao from Hengshui City's Transportation Bureau was arrested on the same day. Practitioner Wang Yongchang from the Hengshui City branch of China Agriculture Bank and practitioner Mao Yaning from Taocheng District of Hengshui City were arrested on August 24. Practitioner Liu Qianli from Jizhou City was arrested on November 17.

These practitioners were first taken to Hengshui City Brainwashing Center, then to Hengshui City Detention Center. Their case was officially reported to the Taocheng District Procuratorate in early 2016. A defense attorney went to the district court to request a reading of the dossier. The request was denied without a reason, and the attorney was detained for several hours. Later, as the attorney went to the Hengshui City Detention Center to see the client, the detention center authorities denied the visitation and confiscated the attorney's license, which was returned only after an official complaint was filed later.

The six practitioners were tried at Taocheng District Court on September 19, 2016. Mr. Dong Huaxin pleaded not guilty and defended himself in court. He stated that there no law in China outlaws the practice of Falun Gong and challenged the prosecuting attorney to produce the legal basis for his charges. Captain Zuo Tiehan from Hengshui City Police colluded with the district court in ordering the abduction of a defense attorney from Beijing that resulted in the attorney's absence in court.

The practitioners appeared in court a second time on December 15, 2016. Mr. Dong defended himself again. One of the practitioners' attornies questioned the legality of the new evidence produced by the prosecution. Practitioner Liu Qianli fell ill during the trial and was taken away by ambulance. The court did not announce a verdict after the trial.