(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Tong Yueliang from Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province, was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. In June 2018, he was taken from the Jinzhou City Detention Center to the Liaoxi New Inmates Prison. He was recently taken to Shenyang No.1 Prison.

Mr. Tong was a teacher in Changxing Town, Beizhen, Jinzhou City. He was arrested for practicing Falun Gong on March 20, 2017. The police ransacked his home and seized his Dafa books, a printer, a computer, and other items before taking him to the Jinzhou Detention Center.

Mr. Tong was tried in Jinzhou Middle Court on the morning of December 1, 2017. The lawyer argued that practitioners of Falun Gong have freedom of belief and that possessing Falun Gong books and a printer to produce informational materials about the practice is entirely legal. Neither the prosecutor nor the judge gave a response to the lawyer's arguments. The judge called a recess without concluding the trial.

On February 12, 2018, the lawyer called Mr. Tong’s family to tell them that he had received a letter from the court, informing them that the verdict had been delivered to Mr. Tong on February 2. Mr. Tong was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 20,000 yuan. The document indicated that he had ten days to appeal.

The court delayed delivery of the document in an attempt to prevent him or his family from filing an appeal. His family rushed to contact a local lawyer in Jinzhou City. The lawyer then rushed to meet with Mr. Tong and submit the required appeal form before the deadline, which he did.

In spite of the fact that the lawyer submitted the required form on time, the Jinzhou Intermediate Court told the family that the appeal had not been processed. The appeal submission form had been left sitting in the detention center and was never delivered to the intermediate court. When their failure to follow proper procedure was challenged, the detention center and the court blamed each other for poor communication. 

In the end, Mr. Tong’s appeal was never heard and his five-year prison term was effectively upheld.