(Minghui.org) A Qitaihe City resident was recently sentenced to three and a half years in prison and fined 3,000 yuan for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

The guilty verdict against Ms. Zhang Guirong, 64, was delivered after two court hearings. Her lawyer was able to defend her in court only during the first hearing on December 29, 2016.

The second hearing was scheduled for January 10, 2017 but was canceled at the last minute, when Ms. Zhang declined to take part in the court session upon learning that her lawyer was barred from entering the courtroom for refusing to go through security checks. By law, lawyers are exempt from security checks.

A secret hearing was held three days later, after Ms. Zhang was led to believe that her lawyer had quit representing her. She was shocked to learn from her lawyer on January 18 that the court never informed him of the hearing.

Ms. Zhang has filed an appeal with the Qitaihe City Intermediate Court.

Related reports:

Court Deceives Local Woman into Trial without Lawyer and Family PresentQitaihe, Heilongjiang Province: 5 Tried for Their Faith in Falun GongQitaihe, Heilongjiang Province: 10 Still Detained for Their Faith, Face Uphill BattleQitaihe, Heilongjiang Province: 4 Falun Gong Practitioners Scheduled for TrialLawyers Overcome Difficulties to Meet with Their Falun Gong Practitioner Clients