(Minghui.org) Five residents of Xiantao City were convicted for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
Mr. Liu Xiong, Mr. Hu Fengcheng, and Ms. Yang Dongmei were arrested on April 12, 2016 and tried together on December 8, 2017.
Mr. Zhang Jiaxing and Mr. Liu Jun were arrested on July 20, 2016 and December 6, 2016, respectively. They were tried together on December 7, 2017.
Judges Shuang Shiquan and Pu Qinghui of the Qianjiang Court presided over both trials. They issued guilty verdicts for all five Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Liu Xiong was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and Mr. Hu to 2 years.
The other three practitioners were each given 3 years in prison, suspended for 3 years. They were released on December 25.
Judge Wang Yongcheng returned the two cases to the police in May 2017, but Song Wei of the Jianghan Police Department and Zhu Yan of the Qianjiang Procuratorate resubmitted the cases to the Qianjiang Court.
Judges Shuang and Pu were then told to take over the cases from Judge Wang. They warned the practitioners’ families beforehand not to invite any local Falun Gong practitioners to attend the trials.
Mr. Zhang didn’t have legal representation. Mr. Liu Jun had his lawyer, Mr. Sun Dianjun, enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf. Mr. Liu’s wife, however, was barred from entering the courtroom.
The other three practitioners appeared in court the next day. Each had a lawyer who defended their constitutional right to freedom of belief, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong.
Mr. Liu Xiong also testified in his own defense. He recounted how Falun Gong turned his life around by teaching him to live by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to be a good husband and father. He also used to drink, smoke, and gamble all the time, but he kicked his bad habits after he began to practice Falun Gong.
The judges failed to specify which law he and the other practitioners broke. Nonetheless, they still convicted them weeks after the trials.