China Cancels Court Hearing Of Frail House Church Leader

Monday, June 23, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- A frail prominent Chinese house church leader and Christian bookstore owner already detained for three months remained in a Chinese prison Sunday, June 22, after a court hearing was unexpectedly cancelled, Chinese Christians said.

Shi Weihan, who has been held without formal charges after being arrested in Beijing, was scheduled to have his day in court Thursday, June 19, but relatives and an advocacy group said the hearing had not taken place for unknown reasons.

China Aid Association (CAA), which closely monitors the case, told BosNewsLife in a statement that the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB), the main law enforcement agency, has accused Shi of being a "dangerous religious element," but those charges were never officially presented in court.

"Normally, PSB forces are not allowed to hold Chinese citizens for more than two months without formal charges. Despite having held Mr. Shi beyond the time legally allowed [without] formal charges or a court hearing, the PSB still refuses to allow his family or attorney to see him," CAA said.

His attorney, Zhang Xingshui, has reportedly asked authorities to explain the situation of his client, who is held at an undisclosed location and apparently does not receive his needed diabetic medicine.


Last month, PSB officials also froze the bank account of Shi's house church led by Shi and officials are probing his links to CAA President Bob Fu's House Church in Beijing, Christians said. Fu and his family fled to the United States in 1997. The ongoing contention of the case has brought severe stress and anxiety to Shi’s wife Zhang Jing and their two daughters, CAA said.

Zhang Jing and their children are reportedly under constant surveillance and also monitoring the movements of Shi’s lawyer, to ensure that he makes no contact with foreign human rights groups.

CAA urged the Chinese Government "to abide by its own rule of law and remain consistent with its stance on religious freedom and human rights, by unconditionally releasing Shi Weihan from custody."

Police initially detained Shi November 28, 2007, charging him with "illegal business practices," for running a Christian book store, located near the Olympic Village. Officials ordered his release on January 4, citing insufficient evidence. He was arrested again on March 19, apparently because of his store and church activities. (With reporting from Beijing and BosNewsLife Research).

Copyright 2008 BosNewsLife. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
without our prior written consent.