(Minghui.org) Eight residents in Mianzhu City, Sichuan Province were arrested in May 2019 for their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.

The eight practitioners first appeared in Anzhou District Court on December 29, 2019. The judge scheduled a second hearing for 9 a.m. two days later. When the practitioners' families arrived at the court at 8:40 a.m. on December 31, they were surprised to hear that the second hearing had just ended, and that their loved ones had already been sent back to the detention centers.

It turned out that the presiding judge moved the hearing to an earlier time at 8 a.m. without informing the families. The judge sentenced the eight practitioners to prison at the end of the hearing.

Ms. Cai Yifeng, was sentenced to 4.5 years, and fined 12,000 yuan.Mr. Yang Xuncheng, was sentenced to 4 years, and fined 10,000 yuan.Ms. Yin Guangsu and Ms. Li Yongfang were both sentenced to 3.5 years, with 8,000 yuan fine each.Mr. Guo Yuanjun and Ms. Huang Bohui were both sentenced to 3 years, with 6,000 yuan fine each.Ms. Wan Mengrong and Ms. Lu Shangrong were both sentenced to 2 years, with 4,000 yuan fine each.

The eight practitioners have appealed the sentences.

Six of the practitioners (from left to right): Mr. Yang Xuncheng, Mr. Guo Yuanjun, Ms. Huang Bohui, Ms. Yin Guangsu, Ms. Cai Yifeng, and Ms. Li Yongfang

The practitioners were arrested on May 28, 2019. The two male practitioners have since been sent to the Huagai Detention Center, and the six female practitioners were sent to the Mianyang City No.3 Detention Center.

Four of the practitioners had their families hire lawyers for them. The lawyers entered “not guilty” pleas on their clients’ behalf during their first hearing on October 29, 2019.

The other four practitioners didn’t have their own lawyers. The court-appointed lawyers were instructed to plead “guilty” on their behalf.

Ms. Cai refused to accept the court-appointed lawyer and the guilty plea. The judge ordered the bailiffs to take her back to the local detention center. It wasn’t clear whether the judge held a separate hearing for her before the sentencing.

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