(Minghui.org) A higher court in Anhui Province recently upheld the conviction of a local man without holding an open hearing as requested. The rulings were delivered to the man’s employer, not his lawyer.

Mr. Fang Haoqi, an employee of Susong County Tax Bureau, was arrested on September 26, 2016 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

The Susong County Court tried Mr. Fang on January 10, 2017 and issued a guilty verdict on January 23, sentencing him to three years and eight months in prison and levying a fine of 10,000 yuan.

Mr. Fang immediately filed an appeal with Anqing City Intermediate Court. His lawyer visited the higher court on April 18 to deliver legal documents and request an open hearing. A clerk said that judge Zhu Zuqin was on a business trip.

Zhu called the lawyer the following day and informed him that Mr. Fang’s case had been closed on April 17. The lawyer wanted to know why he wasn’t told about this by the clerk.

Mr. Fang’s family received a notice from his employer on April 21, informing them of the higher court’s decision to uphold his conviction, but reducing his sentence to 2.5 years and his fine to 8,000 yuan.

Mr. Fang’s lawyer received no notice from the higher court to that effect.

Mr. Fang and his lawyer have filed complaints against both the lower court and the higher court with the Anqing City Procuratorate. They are also appealing the higher court’s ruling to the provincial superior court.