(Minghui.org) A prosecutor in the trial of a Falun Gong practitioner promised a lighter sentence if the practitioner pled guilty. When Mr. Yang Xiaodong defended his constitutional right to freedom of belief and demanded an acquittal, the prosecutor warned that he would “lose his chance to receive a sentence reduction with that attitude.”

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Yang, a resident in Xi'an City, Shannxi Province, was tried by the Lianhu District Court on September 28, 2018 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong.

Prosecutor Pei Zhe and judge Shen Meining asked Mr. Yang why he began to practice Falun Gong in 2013, amidst the persecution. Mr. Yang said that he was inspired by the dramatic health improvement in his mother after she took up the practice. He also said that after reading Falun Gong books himself, he realized that it was a spiritual practice that teaches people to be good, and that it was nothing like what the government’s demonizing propaganda stated.

Pei alleged that the Falun Gong materials found at Mr. Yang's home was enough evidence to sentence him to prison. Pei then promised a lighter sentence if Mr. Yang admitted guilt. Otherwise he would sentence him to a term ranging from three years and three months to three years and nine months, with fines.

Mr. Yang's lawyer protested that the prosecutor was pressuring his client, and attempted to block his self-defense. The lawyer went on to argue that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that the charge of “undermining law enforcement” couldn't be applied to Mr. Yang's spiritual belief.

The lawyer also argued that the police violated legal procedures and illegally ransacked Mr. Yang's home without a search warrant.

The judge adjourned the trial and said she would announce the verdict at a later time.

Mr. Yang, 48, was arrested on October 13, 2017 by two dozen police officers at home. The Procuratorate approved the case on November 23, 2017. He was first detained at Xincheng District Detention Center and later transferred to the Lianhu District Detention Center.

The Lianhu District Procuratorate returned his case to the police on May 8, 2018, demanding more supporting evidence. After the police re-submitted the case, the Procuratorate brought the case to the court on July 20, 2018.