(Minghui.org) After a lower court secretly tried a Falun Gong practitioner, sentenced her to four and a half years in prison, and imposed a 10,000-yuan fine, a judge at the intermediate court upheld the conviction without a hearing. He also threatened to investigate the defense lawyer when the latter found out his client did request an open hearing.

Ms. Song Xianlan, from Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, was tried by Lianhu District Court in July 2017. The trial came only two weeks after her case was transferred from the local procuratorate to the court. Her family was not informed of the trial, nor did they have time to hire a lawyer to represent her.

Upon learning of the secret trial, her family hired a lawyer and requested a retrial. The court clerk told them that Judge Huo Biao had gone on vacation and refused to arrange a new trial.

Three months later, Ms. Song received the verdict by Lianhu District Court.

Ms. Song and her lawyer immediately appealed the sentence to Xi'an Intermediate Court and demanded an open hearing.

When the lawyer went to the Intermediate Court, Judge Luo Chengxing claimed that Ms. Song made a request to him in person that he not hold an open hearing in her appeals case.

The lawyer questioned whether it was Ms. Song’s true intent. To seek clarification, he traveled a long distance to visit her at the detention center. Ms. Song was so shocked that she almost fainted when the lawyer repeated the judge's remarks.

She was on IV drips at the moment, and she pulled out the needle to write a statement with a shaking hand. She stated that she never said to Judge Luo that she did not want an open hearing and that she intended to continue her appeal.

When the judge learned that the lawyer had heard differently from Ms. Song, he became agitated and threatened to investigate the lawyer.

The lawyer contacted the judge two months later and asked whether he would schedule a hearing in Ms. Song's case. The judge said no.

On August 21, 2018, the lawyer received the verdict from Judge Luo that he had decided to uphold Ms. Song's original sentence.

Ms. Song said she will continue to appeal her case.

Ms. Song was arrested on March 21, 2017, for refusing the renounce her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

The clerk at Lianhu District Court once said to Ms. Song's family, “Falun Gong cases are submitted to and pre-approved by the intermediate court before being returned to the trial courts to go through the motions.”

Previous report:Xi’an Woman Sentenced to Prison for Her Faith, Court Clerk Admits Outcome of Falun Gong Cases Pre-determined