(Minghui.org) A Beijing man sentenced to prison for his faith has had his appeal stalled in the local court for more than five months.

Mr. Qin Wei was given 2.5 years in prison on December 2, 2016, less than seven months after his eighth arrest for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

Mr. Qin filed an appeal right after he was sentenced. By law, the court that passes sentence on a defendant is supposed to forward that appeal to a higher court as soon as the paperwork is received.

Mr. Qin, however, heard nothing from the Haidian District Court until late March 2017, when the court made multiple phone calls to his family and lawyer asking them to send back the original verdict.

Mr. Qin’s lawyer demanded to know why the lower court wanted the verdict sent back, but he got no answers. Mr. Qin’s family talked to judge Lu Haifei on the phone on April 26, but Lu declined to reveal why she needed the verdict returned to her.

Mr. Qin’s lawyer checked the status of his case again on April 28 and noted it still hadn’t arrived at the Beijing First Intermediate Court. Mr. Qin’s family visited the lower court on May 2 and finally found out that Lu wanted to add a sentence to the verdict. The clerk who spoke to the family promised to forward the appeal to the higher court as soon as they received the verdict and made the necessary modification.

At the family’s insistence, the clerk finally revealed what was to be added: “He [Qin Wei] was also given a fine.”

Mr. Qin’s family protested the proposed additional penalty. After all, Mr. Qin broke no law by exercising his constitutional right to freedom of belief, and he should never have been prosecuted in the first place.

They refused to turn in the verdict, and Mr. Qin’s appeal remains in the lower court.

Mr. Qin’s lawyer informed his family that there was no need for them to produce the verdict if a judge wanted to modify an original sentence. He suspected that judge Lu’s real intention was to make it harder to win the appeal.

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