(Minghui.org) After the Lishu County Court in Jilin Province sentenced 14 Falun Gong practitioners to prison for their faith, the judges refused to provide copies of the verdicts to the practitioners’ lawyers or families. All the practitioners have filed appeals with the Siping City Intermediate Court at the time of writing.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

The 14 practitioners of Changchun City, Jilin Province, were arrested in a police sweep on August 15, 2019. They were tried by the Lishu County Court on September 28, 2020. The judges barred their lawyers and family members from defending them in court, and frequently interrupted the practitioners as they testified in their own defense.

After one and a half years of detention, the practitioners were sentenced to seven to nine years on February 26, 2021.

Seven of the sentenced practitioners are from one extended family, and they received a combined 50 years. Mr. Meng Xiangqi, 37, and his mother-in-law, Ms. Fu Guihua, 55, were both sentenced to 7.5 years. Mr. Meng’s father, Mr. Meng Fanjun, 59; his sister-in-law Ms. Yu Jianli, 30; Ms. Yu’s husband Mr. Wang Dongji, 40; and Mr. Wang’s parents, Mr. Wang Kemin, 69, and Ms. Wang Fengzhi, 69, were all sentenced to 7 years.

The other seven practitioners also received heavy terms. Mr. Jiang Tao, 46, was sentenced to 9 years. Mr. Hou Hongqing, 49; Mr. Han Jianping, 58; Mr. Tan Qiucheng, 44; Ms. Zhang Shaoping, 51; Ms. Cui Guixian, 56; Ms. Liu Dongying (who is the mother of Ms. Cui’s son-in-law), 55, were all sentenced to 7 years.

In addition to the 14 practitioners, another two practitioners who were released on bail earlier, Mr. Li Changkun, 77, and Ms. Zhou Liping, 63, were both given suspended sentences.

One day before the verdicts were announced, the practitioners’ family members called presiding judge Li Nan and assistant judge Cui Ren, who said that they hadn’t decided on the verdicts yet. When the family members called a few days later, they were surprised to find out the practitioners had been sentenced already. An insider later told the families that the verdicts had already been decided by higher-ups before the new year.

The practitioners’ family members contacted judges Li and Cui and asked for the hard copy of their verdicts, only to be given the run-around between the two judges.

One family member said to judge Cui, “According to Chinese law, for those who are sentenced, the court should deliver their verdicts to the defendants, the procuratorate, their representatives and families within five days.”

Judge Cui responded that even with the law, he couldn’t make the decision to release their verdicts but would have to ask his superior.

The above family member followed up with judge Cui two days later. But Cui replied that the law wasn’t applicable to the case and there was no way for him to give out copies of the verdicts, not even photocopies.

The family member then found judge Li and said their lawyer would go to pick up the verdict. Li’s secretary responded, “You don’t have a lawyer.”

The same family member was also stonewalled by the appeals department of the court as a staff member turned them down with the excuse that judge Cui wasn’t in the office.

According to one practitioner’s lawyer who had visited him after the judges announced their verdicts, the authorities made major revisions to prosecution evidence indicated in the indictment in order to give heavy terms to the practitioners. For example, the prosecutor accused the practitioner of having an audio file about Falun Gong for over 900 minutes, but the number was changed to over 10,000 minutes in the final verdict.

All practitioners’ Falun Gong books were also counted by the number of words. So if a book had 60,000 words, then each book was counted as 60,000 pieces of prosecution evidence instead of just one.

As the practitioners’ lawyers are trying to collect more evidence about the verdicts from the practitioners, the Siping City Detention Center began to block them from visiting the practitioners.

It’s reported that the Changchun City Political and Legal Affairs Committee (an extrajudicial agency tasked with persecuting Falun Gong) issued new orders that all judiciary staff members handling Falun Gong cases have the right to deny meetings with the practitioners’ family members. Falun Gong practitioners who don’t plead guilty aren’t allowed to hire out-of-province lawyers, but local lawyers only. For anyone who appeals for a Falun Gong case, no government agencies are allowed to receive them. Additionally, Falun Gong cases are not handled according to the law but as directed by “government policies” instead.

Related reports:

Seven Members in an Extended Family Wrongly Convicted for Their Shared Faith in Falun Gong

Changchun City, Jilin Province: 14 Falun Gong Practitioners, Including 7 from an Extended Family, Sentenced to 7 to 9 Years

Seven in an Extended Family Detained for 1.5 Years for Their Faith, Still Awaiting Verdicts in Custody

Two Detention Centers in Jilin Province Subject Falun Gong Practitioners to Brainwashing to Make Them Renounce Their Faith

Sixteen Changchun City, Jilin Province Residents Still Await Verdicts Three Months After Court Hearing

After Ten Years of Displacement and Three Years of Incarceration, Jilin Woman Faces Prison Time for Her Faith Again

Sixteen Jilin Residents Tried for Their Faith, Lawyers Barred From Representing Them in Court

Man Incarcerated and Tortured at 16 Again Faces Prosecution for His Belief

Sixteen Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted in a Group Arrest Face Trial for Their Faith

Families Targeted in Mass Arrest in Jilin Province

Siping City, Jilin Province: 34 Arrested in One Day; 15, Including 7 from One Family, Still in Custody

Fifteen Jilin Residents Remain in Detention After Prosecutor Returns Their Cases

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution