Relaymedia

House Church Leader Faces Trial in Beijing

The trial for Pastor Cai Zhuohua, the leader of six Beijing house churches, took place on Thursday in People's Court of Haidian District Beijing.
( [email protected] ) Jul 09, 2005 04:06 PM EDT

The trial for Pastor Cai Zhuohua, the leader of six Beijing house churches, took place on Thursday in People's Court of Haidian District Beijing. Defendants present were Cai, his wife Xiao Yunfei, his brother, Xiao Gaowen, and his brother's wife Hu Jinyun. The four members were accused of alleged "Illegal business practice." The trial lasted near four and a half hours. No verdict was announced so far.

Cai, 32, was waiting at a bus stop on the morning of Sept. 11, 2004 when three plainly-clothed officers believed to be from the Department of State Security approached him and forced him into a white van. Authorities later confiscated some 200,000 copies of the Bible and other Christian literature in a storage room managed by Cai, who ministers to six house churches in Beijing.

The family members of the defendant were allowed 10 seats. Among those who sat in the courthouse were two members of the church and Xiao Yunfei's father. Cai's mother was kept outside. In addition, the judge invited over 20 law school student to observe the trial. Nine lawyers have volunteered their service to Cai, but only five were allowed in the court room. About 30 pastors from Cai's church stood outside of the courthouse while the trial took place.

When the hearing begun, Pastor Cai rejected his written testimony along with his family members. He asserted that he was forced to sign the papers after being tortured during investigation, and he had no clue was recorded in them. He denied of giving consent to the testimonies. The same were applied to the other three members.

While the lawyer brought out arguments drawing Pastor Cai's activities in relation to his unregistered church, the judge would not accept the argument on religious basis, calling the trial an "economic crime."

The only witness the defense was allowed was from an old lady who testified that she had received Christian literature from Cai, yet she was not asked to pay anything. The defense witness led Cai's lawyer into their argument that Cai had not profit from the literatures.

The verdict will be announced at a later date. Cai's lawyer, Mr. Gao Zhisheng, chief attorney at Beijing Shenzhi Law Firm told Agency France Presse that, "It is impossible for them to be found innocent, but I have confidence to strive for lighter sentences."