(Minghui.org) Eight Falun Gong practitioners in Guan County, Shandong Province, were still sentenced to prison for their shared faith in Falun Gong after a retrial. One of them even had his sentence increased by three years.
The eight people were arrested between May and August 2022 for making materials that expose the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong. 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.
All eight practitioners filed appeals in late February 2023. The Liaocheng City Intermediate Court ruled on April 17 to overturn their original guilty verdicts and returned the cases to the Guan County Court on May 6 for a retrial.
The Guan County Court refused to hold the retrial, so the Chengguanzhen Court was instructed to take over. The latter court retried the eight practitioners around August 2023 and convicted all of them again. Mr. Zhang had his sentence increased from 4 to 7 years. All the other practitioners’ sentences remained the same.
They have all recently filed appeals again.
Six Serving Time in Detention Centers
Ms. Zhang is being held at the Liaocheng City Detention Center, and Mr. Zhou is in the Guan County Detention Center.
The other six practitioners, who had been released on bail not long after their arrests due to their health, received calls from the Guan County Court on February 12, 2023, ordering them to go to the court to pick up their verdicts. Mr. Han did not go and was later forced to live away from home to avoid being jailed. The other five went to the court as instructed, only to be arrested when they got there.
They were taken to the local police station and then to the hospital for physical exams. 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.
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