(Minghui.org) A woman in Hefei City, Anhui Province has begun to serve a 3.5-year prison term after the court denied her right to appeal against a wrongful conviction for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Hang Xia was arrested on November 22, 2017 after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was held at Hefei Detention Center before her prison transfer.

After her case was submitted to Yaohai District Court, the prosecutor refused to allow her two lawyers to review her case document. The presiding judge also blocked her lawyers from defending her during her court hearing on June 12, 2018.

She was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison with a 5,000-yuan fine in October 2018.

Ms. Hang hired a new lawyer to appeal the verdict, but judge Yang Lianwen refused to accept it. At her lawyer's repeated requests, Yang agreed to pick up the appeal documents from the detention center, but he never did so before Ms. Hang was imprisoned.

When the lawyer visited Ms. Hang at the detention center in late February 2019, he was told that she had already been taken to Anhui Women’s Prison on February 21 to serve time.

Neither the lawyer nor Ms. Hang’s family had been informed of her admission to prison.

The lawyer then went to the prison but was stopped by a prison guard at the entrance, who claimed that Ms. Hang was denied visitation because she refused to renounce her faith. The guard also revealed that the order came from the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, a non-judicial agency given power to override the judicial system in the persecution of Falun Gong.

Ms. Hang’s husband is on unpaid sick leave. He is in a dire situation, both physically and financially following his wife's imprisonment.

Related report:

Practitioner Sentenced to Prison for Her Belief and Denied Right to Appeal