(Minghui.org) A Hengshui City resident was sentenced to four years in prison without her lawyer’s knowledge. The same lawyer agreed to represent her in the appeal case, but the higher court judge hastily concluded the case without ever talking to or meeting with him.

Ms. Shang Yukun was arrested in neighboring Shenzhou City on April 15, 2017, for talking to people about the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Even though her case was twice returned, Ms. Li was still indicted for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief. Judge Li Bingyin of the Shenzhou City Court tried her without notifying her family or lawyer. He issued a guilty verdict on December 29, 2017.

Because Ms. Shang wasn’t allowed to call her family or lawyer, she submitted her handwritten appeal to Shenzhou City Detention Center on January 4, 2018. Her lawyer visited her five days later and was stunned to learn of her trial and sentencing.

Ms. Shang signed a power of attorney for her lawyer to represent her in her appeal. The lawyer contacted judge Li afterward, requesting a copy of his client’s verdict. Li ignored him.

Upon the lawyer’s advice, Ms. Shang’s family visited Hengshui City Intermediate Court every week to ask about the status of her appeal. The staff there always said there was no record in their system that it had ever been filed.

Ms. Shang’s family learned in early February 2018 that judge Wang Yu of Hengshui City Intermediate Court has been assigned to the case. They contacted Wang and was told the higher court hadn’t yet received the appeal case.

The family turned to judge Li, who eventually forwarded the case to the higher court around February 16 and mailed out a copy of Ms. Shang’s verdict to her lawyer on February 27.

Ms. Shang’s lawyer visited the higher court on February 28, but the staff there refused to connect him with judge Wang.

The lawyer then went to the detention center to see Ms. Shang. She told him that judge Wang and a clerk came to talk to her on February 23. They verified her intent to appeal and had her sign some paperwork.

The lawyer returned to the higher court and got hold of Cao Ying, the clerk for judge Wang. Cao told him on the phone that the case has been closed, but she refused to transfer him to Wang.

The lawyer proceeded to the Discipline Supervision Bureau in Hengshui City to file a complaint against Wang. A senior judge there called Wang to ask if Ms. Shang had a lawyer and Wang said no. Wang was then heard saying that she had returned her decision to the lower court.

The lawyer couldn’t believe his ears, because Ms. Shang signed the power of attorney on January 9. He called judge Li afterward, and Li said he didn’t know the appeal case had been closed.

It is unclear what decision judge Wang made, but it appears she probably has upheld the guilty verdict.

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