(Minghui.org) Three Yantai City, Shandong Province residents targeted in a group arrest were sentenced to prison for their faith in Falun Gong. Although the intermediate court revoked the verdicts and ordered a retrial, the lower court still delivered the same prison terms against the practitioners.
Two of the practitioners have been released after serving the time. The third was transferred to Shandong Province Women’s Prison in mid-February 2021 to serve the remaining seven months of her term.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Pan Rongqing, Ms. Pan Yanyan, Ms. Ma Yuzhen, and Ms. Zou Benzhen were arrested on September 15, 2017, along with eight other practitioners. Their arrests were approved by the Laishan Procuratorate on October 19, 2017.
The police submitted the practitioners’ cases to the Laishan District Procuratorate on December 18, 2017, and the Procuratorate returned the cases twice due to insufficient evidence.
While Ms. Zou was acquitted and released on February 9, 2018, the police continued to frame Ms. Pan Rongqing, Ms. Pan Yanyan, and Ms. Ma. After the police submitted the practitioners’ cases for the third time, the prosecutor indicted them and moved their cases to the Laishan District Court on June 29, 2018.
The practitioners appeared in court on May 17, 2019. Their lawyers entered not-guilty pleas for them. Ms. Pan Rongqing was later sentenced to four years with a 10,000 yuan fine. Ms. Pan Yanyan was given three years with a 7,000 yuan fine. Ms. Ma was sentenced to two years with a 4,000 yuan fine.
The practitioners appealed with the Yantai City Intermediate Court, which ruled that the Laishan District Court didn’t have enough merit to convict the practitioners and revoked the sentencing on August 19.
Although the Laishan District Court was ordered to re-try the practitioners, they waited a year to schedule the hearing.
Having served the time, Ms. Ma was released on September 15, 2019, days after the intermediate court’s ruling.
By the time of the first hearing of the re-trial on September 2, 2020, it was only 13 days before Ms. Pan Yanyan’s term was to expire.
The Laishan District Court delivered the same verdicts against the practitioners on November 2, 2020. The practitioners appealed again, but to no avail.
Ms. Pan Rongqing was kept at Yantai City No. 1 Detention Center before being transferred to the Shandong Province Women’s Prison in February 2021. She is scheduled to be released on September 15, 2021.