(Minghui.org) Five locals in Mishan City were tried on May 13, 2017 for distributing literature about the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Their defense lawyers argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that their clients had every right to raise awareness of the illegality of the persecution. The lawyers further challenged the validity of the prosecution evidence, as the prosecution witness did not appear in court and there were only blurry photos, not physical evidence, of items allegedly confiscated from the defendants.

The lawyers demanded an acquittal of their clients. The judge adjourned the session without issuing a verdict.

Upon learning of the trial, 97 local residents signed a petition seeking the release of the five Falun Gong practitioners. Prior to this, 628 people had already petitioned for the practitioners’ release shortly after their arrest on December 14, 2016.

Ms. Wang Yufeng, Ms. Yu Xiuxiang, Ms. Guo Xiuhua, Ms. Yang Shuxian, and Mr. Fan Mingsheng remain held at local detention centers.

Related Report:Five Practitioners Detained, 628 Signatures Collected for Their Release