(Minghui.org) Two women were each to sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in prison and fined 50,000 yuan for hanging up banners bearing messages about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

Ms. Zheng Jinping, 59, is a resident of Jixi City. Ms. Liu Shuyun, 56, is a resident of Jidong County (under the administration of Jixi City). They hung up several Falun Gong banners along a boulevard in Jidong County on August 18, 2017.

Jidong police arrested them after looking over surveillance videos. A married couple, Xu Shujun and Wang Chuanyun, helped them and were also arrested at the same time, though they were released hours later due to their advanced age.

Ms. Zheng's father was so traumatized by her arrest that he fell ill and died three days later. Her husband went to request her release after Jidong County Procuratorate twice returned the case to Jidong County Police Department. The police said the case had been registered with the province's public security bureau, which had the final say over the case.

Officer He Wenming and two prosecutors from Jidong County Procuratorate, including Yin Shaoduo and a person surnamed Zhang, showed up at the married couple's home on December 13 to question them on where the banners came from.

They held Ms. Wang Chuanyun in one room while interrogating her husband, Mr. Xu Shujun, in another room. Zhang took notes on his computer. Yin served a notice to the couple. It is unclear what the notice was about.

The couple, along with Ms. Zheng and Ms. Liu, were indicted on December 28. Ms. Zheng and Ms. Liu were held at Jixi City Detention Center.

The case was forwarded to Jidong County Court on January 4, 2018. The four Falun Gong practitioners' family members delivered a letter to prosecutor Yin on January 19, urging him to drop the case. He threatened to call the police on them.

Ms. Zheng's husband tried to apply to be her defender on February 1, but Gai Qiuhai of Jidong County Procuratorate (who was in charge of the case) rejected the application right away.

Ms. Zheng's husband visited Jidong County Court on March 27 to deliver his power of attorney and other relevant documents. Guo Jipin, a court vice president, consulted with another person and told Ms. Zheng's husband that family members were not allowed to be defenders. He refused to answer when asked for the legal basis for such a policy. He then said family members were not allowed to attend the trial either.

Guo admitted that Falun Gong cases are all handled this way and he stopped Ms. Zheng's husband from talking further, saying there was a surveillance camera in the room.

Ms. Zheng and Ms. Liu were tried on March 28 without their families' knowledge. The court ruled on April 17 to sentence them to prison. Ms. Zheng's husband requested to be her defender in her appeal, only to be rejected.

Ms. Zheng was found to have unstable blood pressure and spotted a shadow in her chest during the required medical examination for prison admission. She was still transferred to Heilongjiang Province Women's Prison on May 16 together with Ms. Liu.

Ms. Zheng's husband visited her on May 31 and noted that she was in very poor health.