(Minghui.org) Eight residents of Guan County, Shandong Province were sentenced to 3–7.5 years in prison on December 21, 2022 for making materials exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of their shared faith, Falun Gong.

Six of them filed appeals in late February 2023. On April 17, the Liaocheng City Intermediate Court ruled to overturn their original guilty verdicts and returned the cases to the Guan County Court for a retrial.

The trial court has not scheduled the retrial as ordered at the time of writing.

The eight Falun Gong practitioners were arrested between May and August 2022. The Guan County Court held a virtual hearing of their cases on December 21, 2022, and sentenced them to prison on January 4, 2023.

Ms. Zhang Yuxiang, 51, and Mr. Xu Hengkui, 60, were both sentenced to 7.5 years and fined 18,000 yuan. Mr. Kong Dequan, 61, was given 7 years and 4 months, with a 16,000-yuan fine. Mr. Zhou Chunbao, 48, Ms. Gao Shuzhen, 47, Mr. Han Zhenlin, 71, and Mr. Zhang Bingliang, 68, were each sentenced to 4 years with a 10,000-yuan fine. Mr. Wang Ruixiang, 55, was given 3 years and fined 8,000 yuan.

Ms. Zhang, Mr. Kong, Mr. Xu, Mr. Han, Mr. Zhang, and Mr. Wang all filed appeals one month after their prison sentencing. They pointed out that the trial court lacked legal basis and sufficient evidence to convict them. No enacted law in China criminalizes Falun Gong, and thus their practice of and spreading information about Falun Gong are lawful. The trial court cited the items confiscated from their homes as evidence against them. However, those items were merely decorations bearing messages about Falun Gong, and the trial court failed to show how the practitioners undermined law enforcement by having those decorations at home.

Six Serving Time in Detention Centers

Ms. Zhang and Mr. Zhou are being held at the Liaocheng City Detention Center and Guan County Detention Center, respectively.

The other six practitioners, who had been released on bail not long after their arrests due to their health conditions, received calls from the Guan County Court on February 12, 2023, ordering them to come to the court to pick up their verdicts. Mr. Han did not go and was later forced to live away home to avoid being jailed. The other five practitioners went to the court as instructed, only to be arrested upon arrival.

All five of them were first taken to the local police station and then to the hospital for physical examinations. Mr. Xu, Mr. Zhang, and Mr. Wang were denied admission by the Guan County Detention Center due to health reasons, but Mr. Kong and Ms. Gao were admitted.

Mr. Xu and Mr. Zhang were later taken into custody. It is unclear where they are being held.

Related Reports:

Eight Shandong Residents Wrongfully Sentenced for Their Faith—Four Are Serving Time

Eight Shandong Residents Sentenced to 3 to 7.5 Years for Having Falun Gong Artwork at Home