(Minghui.org) A Jintang County resident was sentenced to four years in prison on December 3, 2018, for his faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. He has appealed his sentence to the intermediate court.

Mr. Xiao Mincheng, 54, used to be notorious among his relatives for his addictions to alcohol and gambling. He often knocked on his relatives' doors in the middle of the night to beg for food after losing money at the casino.

After he learned Falun Gong in 1995, he became a completely different person. He worked hard and took good care of his family. His pursuit of a better life landed him in police custody after the persecution began in 1999. Prior to his latest sentencing, he was given eight years in prison in 2001.

Latest Arrest and Trial

Mr. Xiao was arrested on the evening of September 2, 2017, when he returned home. The police ransacked his residence and confiscated his computer and Falun Gong items. He was held in Shuicheng Police Station for two hours before being transferred to Jintang County Detention Center.

His wife, mother-in-law, sister, and brother-in-law went to the police station to demand his release on September 6. The head of Domestic Security Division told his sister to try to persuade him to give up practicing Falun Gong. She replied, “My brother became a much better person after learning Falun Gong. He quit smoking, drinking, and gambling. What would become of him if he didn't practice anymore?”

The police submitted his case to the Jintang County Procuratorate, which approved his arrest on September 13.

After more than a year of detention, Mr. Xiao was tried in the Jintang County Court on December 3, 2018. His sister asked to defend him, but presiding judge Tang He turned her down.

Prosecutor Yang Ping accused Mr. Xiao of helping two locals edit their criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.

His lawyer argued that it was every citizen's constitutional right to file a complaint against a government official and that his client shouldn't have been charged in the first place.

The prosecutor cited testimony from a local resident, Ms. Zhao, who said Mr. Xiao taught her how to send Falun Gong-related text messages, but Ms. Zhao didn't appear in court to be cross-examined.

Mr. Xiao's lawyer argued that Zhao's failure to appear in court rendered her testimony inadmissible.

The prosecutor claimed that the witness accounts had been verified by the Sichuan Province 610 Office, so they were valid. The lawyer countered that the 610 Office is an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong and didn't have the power, legally, to verify evidence. He demanded that his client be acquited.

Judge Tang sentenced Mr. Xiao to four years in prison after a short recess.