NEWS ALERT: Chinese Christian Bookstore Owner To Stand Trial

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Worthy News Asia Service

BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)-- A house church leader and founder of a Christian bookstore,  who has been detained since last year for the "illegal distribution of Bibles and Christian literature," was to stand trial Wednesday, April 9, Chinese Christians said.

Shi Weihan, 38, was to face a Beijing court Friday, March 20, but the court postponed the case "indefinitely", said Christian advocacy group Open Doors told Worthy News earlier.

However China Aid Association (CAA), another major rights group, said it has learned that Shi will face a court Wednesday,  April 9

"Over the past months, several scheduled court appearances have been postponed" although "a judge has already said they is no sufficient evidence to convict him on this charge. Nevertheless, police have continued to hold Shi Weihan in order collect additional evidence to gain a conviction," CAA added.


While in prison, Shi "character and good influence on the other prisoners has apparently been noted by prison officials, and he reportedly has had some favor in that setting, although the conditions have been difficult and his health has suffered," CAA stressed.

It said that Shi Weihan's wife is currently "bearing much of the burden for the family." Friends have been quoted as saying that "her main concern is caring for their two daughters and continuing the house church work."

Authorities continue to pressure the family, Christians said. CAA said it has urged its  supporters to prat that "the judge recognizes what the officials in the prison have [recognized] -- that Shi Weihan is a man of great mercy and compassion, that he is a blessing to China ...."

China's government has denied wrongdoing, saying that Christians are free to worship within the government-backed churches. Many of China's estimated 130 million Christians prefer to worship without Communist government interference, rights investigators say.