(Minghui.org) A school teacher in Changling County was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison and fined 10,000 yuan for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

Ms. Chu Zhanfeng was arrested on October 31, 2016, and the local authorities threatened to revoke the license of any local lawyer who dared to represent her. Her family had no choice but hire an out-of-town lawyer to defend her constitutional right to freedom of belief.

The lawyer, though, never got his application to represent Ms. Chu accepted by Changling County Court, as he didn’t have the paperwork demanded by Judge Yin Wanxin.

Yin asked the lawyer to provide permission documents from the latter’s local judicial bureau and the Songyuan County Judicial Bureau, authorizing him to represent Ms. Chu. The two judicial bureaus both said they never issue such documents, since lawyers have the full right to choose who to represent.

Ms. Chu was secretly tried on February 13, 2017. When her family found out about the trial, they protested against the court’s failure to notify them as required by law. One clerk claimed that the court didn’t have the family’s phone numbers, when in fact they called the family only weeks ago to say that Ms. Chu’s case had been forwarded to the court.

Yin announced the guilty verdict against Ms. Chu during the sentencing hearing on March 28. Ms. Chu vows to appeal the unjust sentence.

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