(Minghui.org) The Liaocheng City Intermediate Court in Shandong Province ruled to uphold the wrongful convictions of eight locals for their faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.

The eight people were initially sentenced to from 3 to 7.5 years on January 4, 2023. They were granted a retrial upon appeal but were re-sentenced. They appealed again after the retrial but were still found guilty for practicing their faith. As they went through process of being tried and sentenced, appealing and being retried and re-sentenced, and then appealing again, the Liaocheng City Intermediate Court only revised two practitioners’ sentences. Seven of the eight practitioners have been admitted to prison as of March 16, 2024.

Initial Sentences, Appeal and Retrial

All eight practitioners are residents of Guan County, Liaocheng City. They were arrested between May and August 2022 for making materials that exposed the persecution of Falun Gong. The Guan County Court tried them virtually on December 21, 2022, and sentenced them to prison on January 4, 2023.

Ms. Zhang Yuxiang, 51, and Mr. Xu Hengkui, 61, were both sentenced to 7.5 years and fined 18,000 yuan.

Mr. Kong Dequan, 59, was given 7 years and 4 months with a 16,000-yuan fine.

Mr. Zhou Chunbao, 48; Ms. Gao Shuzhen, 48; 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.

They all filed appeals in late February 2023. The Liaocheng City Intermediate Court ruled on April 17, 2023, to overturn their original guilty verdicts and returned the cases to the Guan County Court on May 6, 2023, for a retrial.

The Guan County Court refused to hold the retrial, so the Chengguan Township 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.

Appeal Again After Retrial

All eight practitioners appealed with the Liaocheng City Intermediate Court again after the re-sentencing. The higher court ruled at an unknown time to uphold all the convictions but revised two of the practitioners’ sentences.

Mr. Zhang’s 7-year sentence was changed back to the original 4-year sentence. Mr. Kong’s sentence was reduced to 3 years and 9 months with a 10,000-yuan fine. The other six practitioners’ sentences remained the same.

Ms. Zhang and Ms. Gao are currently held at the Liaocheng City Detention Center; Mr. Zhang at the Guan County Detention Center; and Mr. Zhou, Mr. Wang, and Mr. Kong at the Shandong Province Prison. Mr. Xu is also held at the Guan County Detention Center after he was denied admission to the Shandong Province Prison. Mr. Han, who was once out on bail, had been forced to live away from home to avoid being taken back into custody.

Related Reports:

Guan County, Shandong Province: Eight Falun Gong Practitioners Convicted Again in Retrial after Previous Prison Sentences Overturned

Appeals Court Overturns Guilty Verdicts Against Six Falun Gong Practitioners, Trial Court Hasn't Scheduled Retrial After Three Months

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