(Minghui.org) Two men in Xiangcheng City were sentenced to prison for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

Mr. Ding Shujun, 54, and Mr. Tong Zhanmin, 53, were arrested by Jin Hai and other officers from the Xiangcheng City Police Department's Domestic Security Office on June 6, 2017.

Mr. Ding was secretly tried in late November 2017 without his family’s knowledge.

Mr. Tong appeared before Judge Gong Guangming at the Xiangcheng City Detention Center on November 29. Only a few of his family members were allowed to attend the trial.

Prosecutor Zhu Peilian presented three pieces of evidence against Mr. Tong. First, that he practiced Falun Gong. Second, that he filed a criminal complaint against former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin for launching the persecution of Falun Gong. Third, that he was carrying three flash drives containing Falun Gong information at the time of his arrest.

Mr. Tong’s lawyer refuted the evidence. He argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong, and that his client had every right to hold Jiang responsible for interfering with his freedom of belief.

Prosecutor Zhu recommended at least seven years of imprisonment for Mr. Tong. Judge Gong adjourned the session without issuing a verdict. When the trial resumed in early January 2018, he sentenced Mr. Tong to five years. Mr. Tong immediately asked to appeal his case, but Judge Gong insisted that he find another lawyer to help him file the paperwork. By law, defendants can file verbal or written appeals without using a lawyer. Mr. Tong’s family ended up spending several thousand yuan on the new lawyer.

It was learned that Mr. Ding was convicted around the same time. He was sentenced to a 5.5-year prison term.

Xiangcheng City Police Department

Yang Buchao, chief: +86-13603942875Ma Zhefeng, deputy chief: +86-137076288999Jin Hai, vice head of domestic security office,: +86-13592206366

Xiangcheng City Procuratorate:

Li Lei, chief prosecutor: +86-13838667613, +86-394-4303001Tian Li: +86-394-4303009Liu Chunhua: +86-394- 4303118

Xiangcheng City Court:

Zhang Yongbo, president: +86-15003945618Wei Hongxing, vice president: +86-13803945999Gong Guangming, head of criminal court: +86-18625738002, +86-13938090969Yu Baozhi, head of administrative court: +86-18525737717Zhang Shengli, head of monitoring division: +86-18625737871