(Minghui.org) Seven Linshui County residents were sentenced to prison on October 27 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

The seven Falun Gong practitioners were arrested on July 25, 2014, in a police raid directed by the local 610 Office, an extra-legal agency tasked with eradicating Falun Gong and given the power to override the police and judicial system.

They made two court appearances, first on January 15, 2015, and then on September 29, 2015. All seven practitioners testified that they were abused while police were interrogating them. They were hit with water bottles and deprived of sleep. One young practitioner was slapped in the face and not allowed to close her eyes for several days in a row.

The defense lawyers argued that the prosecution evidence extracted from their clients by way of torture was inadmissible. They emphasized that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that their clients should never have been prosecuted for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief.

The lawyers demanded that their clients be acquitted, but the judge delivered guilty verdicts 13 months after the second hearing.

Their sentences are:

Mr. Luo Xuefang and Ms. Li Kunju: 7 years each

Ms. Zhong Dongsheng: 3 years

Ms. Tang Sulan: 2.5 years

Ms. Zhang Bilan, Mr. Wang Zhengfeng, and Ms. Xu Kaiqiong: 3 years each, suspended sentences

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