(Minghui.org) A 59-year-old woman in Jinan City was sentenced to two years in prison for refusing to renounce her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. Ms. Shi Minglan is now appealing her case.

Ms. Shi credits Falun Gong for giving her hope in life. She used to suffer from vertigo, rheumatic arthritis, and pelvic inflammation. Nothing seemed to help. Her husband had a stroke in 1997 and was left unable to care for himself. Her family struggled to make ends meet. Things turned around when she began practicing Falun Gong in February 1999 and became healthy in just three months.

Ms. Shi quit practicing Falun Gong when the persecution began in July 1999. Her old symptoms soon returned, and she eventually decided to resume practicing Falun Gong in 2004. Not only was she illness-free again, but her husband, who doesn't practice but supports her practice of Falun Gong, also saw improvements in his health and was able to take care of himself again.

Having had firsthand experience with Falun Gong, Ms. Shi never stopped sharing her story with people since she resumed the practice. As a result, she was arrested on multiple occasions.

Ms. Shi was detained for 10 days in May 2015 and another 12 days in January 2016. Her third arrest took place on April 19, 2016, followed by her latest arrest on May 12, 2017.

Her husband traveled to Jinan Detention Center three times but was turned away each time. Guards told him that only a lawyer would be allowed to see her.

Ms. Shi's lawyer learned that the local procuratorate had submitted her case to the local court within two weeks of her latest arrest. Several officers interrogated Ms. Shi at the detention center after the court returned the case and demanded additional evidence. The procuratorate resubmitted her case on June 14.

The lawyer said it was extremely rare to have a case submitted to the court so soon. He visited the vice president of Zhangqiu District Court and demanded his client's acquittal. The vice president said that the case had been submitted to the local intermediate court, which would issue a recommendation on Ms. Shi's sentencing after the 19th Party Congress concluded in October.

Ms. Shi appeared in court on March 27, 2018. Her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for her, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong. Prosecutors Dong Yuanyuan and Liu Xuejie recommended a sentence of 3-5 years in prison.

Weeks after the court hearing, Judge Xu Hui (+86-531-85833773) sentenced Ms. Shi to two years in prison.