(Minghui.org) An appeals court in Tianjin upheld the conviction against a local resident without holding an open hearing as requested. Mr. Zhang Ziwen’s lawyer has filed a complaint against the judge in charge of the appeals case.

Mr. Zhang was arrested on March 15, 2016 and sentenced nine months later to four years in prison for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. His family found out about the conviction only in January 2017, when they went to inquire about his case.

Mr. Zhang filed an appeal on January 12, 2017. His lawyer tried to visit him the next day but was turned away for “failing to make an appointment ahead of time.”

The lawyer then submitted his power of attorney document to the Tianjin City Second Intermediate Court. Judge Zhang Fan, who was assigned to the case, called the lawyer on January 18 to say that the case had been concluded.

When the lawyer questioned why there was not a hearing for him to defend his client, Zhang responded that the decision had been made.

The higher court soon ruled to uphold the conviction against Mr. Zhang, who was transferred to Binhai Prison on February 16.

His lawyer filed a complaint against Judge Zhang on February 27 and met with another judge, Guo Yu, at the higher court on May 2. The lawyer presented the following key violations of legal procedures committed by Judge Zhang:

Zhang ignored the lawyer’s request to hold an opening hearing in the appeal case;Zhang declined to allow the lawyer to defend his client; andZhang failed to recognize that the original conviction lacked legal basis, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong.

At the time of writing, Mr. Zhang and his lawyer are still waiting for a response from the higher court.

Related Report:Mr. Zhang Ziwen Sentenced to a Four Year Prison Term for His Belief