(Minghui.org) Four Wuhan City, Hubei Province residents were sentenced to prison for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Hong Weisheng was sentenced to ten years with a 50,000-yuan fine. 

Ms. Hou Mila and her sister Ms. Hou Aila each got eight years and 40,000 yuan-fines.

Ms. Rao Xiaoping was given seven years and fined 30,000 yuan. 

The practitioners all appealed their verdict to the Wuhan City Intermediate Court.

Mr. Bai Housheng, another practitioner who was arrested with them but was later released on bail, was sentenced to three years with five years of probation and fined 10,000 yuan. He was ordered to report to the residential committee every day.

The five practitioners were seized from an apartment on April 19, 2018, during a gathering. The police ransacked the place and confiscated their Falun Gong books and materials, a computer, a printer, and other personal belongings. 

Details of Court Hearings

Mr. Hong was taken to Hongshan Detention Center. His arrest was approved on May 28, 2018. 

Ms. Rao and the Hou sisters were held in the Wuhan City No.1 Detention Center.

The four practitioners appeared in the Hongshan District Court on May 9, 2019. Ms. Rao dismissed the lawyer hired by her family, because the lawyer planned to enter a guilty plea for her.

Mr. Hong's lawyer pled not guilty on his client’s behalf. The lawyer protested authorities' violation of legal procedure in handling Mr. Hong's case, including detaining beyond the legally permissible limit and the court's failure to inform him of the hearing three days ahead of time.

Presiding judge Xiao Yuhua frequently interrupted the lawyer's defense.

In a meeting with Mr. Hong's lawyer on May 17, 2019, Xiao turned down the lawyer's request to have his client released on bail. 

Three days after the meeting, the judge informed the lawyer that the scheduled second hearing of the practitioners on May 24 was canceled.

The court scheduled another hearing for the practitioners on June 20, 2019. It remains to be investigated whether the hearing took place.