(Minghui.org) Three Deyang City residents were sentenced to prison for their continued efforts to resist the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The local appeals court rejected their appeals without holding a public hearing as requested.

Ms. Jiang Mengmei and Ms. Tan Shuhui were each given 2.5 years and sent to Longquanyi Women’s Prison. Mr. Lu Shengli was given 5 years and sent to Jiazhou Prison.

The three Falun Gong practitioners were arrested hours apart on June 4, 2015. Ms. Jiang was seized at the local post office while trying to help a fellow practitioner mail out a criminal complaint against former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin for initiating the persecution of Falun Gong. The police proceeded to arrest Ms. Tan and Mr. Lu, as the latter two once distributed Falun Gong materials together with Ms. Jiang.

The local 610 Office instructed Yanting Court to secretly try the three practitioners on March 2, 2016, but the attempt was thwarted due to the defense lawyers’ objection.

When the hearing was finally held on May 17, 2016, numerous police officers were posted outside the courthouse, and a police captain lied and said that they were dealing with “a special white collar crime case.” Only a total of nine family members of the three defendants were allowed to attend the trial, while the rest of the seats in the gallery were filled with agents from various government agencies.

The prosecutor alleged that the three practitioners broke the law, but he failed to specify which law was broken. Ms. Jiang’s lawyer noted that the fact that his client was arrested for trying to mail out a complaint letter was not mentioned in the indictment, which instead charged Ms. Jiang with spreading information about Falun Gong.

Ms. Jiang’s lawyer argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that citizens had every right to seek justice against Jiang for starting the persecution in the first place. As such, Ms. Jiang broke no law by trying to help a fellow practitioner send out a complaint letter.

Ms. Jiang’s lawyer also argued that police violated the Constitution when they arrested his client because every citizen has the right to send mail.

One judge in the audience was heard saying that the lawyer was so brave to say the police had broken the law.

Presiding judge Du Yaoming said that the prosecutor did lack sufficient evidence to charge the defendants. He promised to announce a verdict soon.

The three practitioners’ families visited the court on August 19, 2016 and complained that their loved ones had been detained beyond legally permissible terms.

A court president admitted that this was a very special case and that his court didn’t know how to rule. He told the families that they submitted the case to Mianyang City Intermediate Court, but the higher court also had no idea of what verdicts should be issued. The court president said they feared being held responsible should they issue wrongful convictions.

The case remained dormant until May 3, 2017, when the court delivered its verdicts and sentenced all three practitioners to prison. The practitioners suspected that the court gave in to pressure from the 610 Office.

Ms. Tan and Ms. Jiang filed an appeal, and Mianyang City Intermediate Court ruled on June 20 to uphold the original verdicts, without holding a public hearing or informing the families in advance. The ruling stated that the defense arguments lacked legal basis and were dismissed.

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