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House Church Leader Trial Delayed Twice Due to Lack of Evidence

House church leader Cai Zhuohua's defense lawyer picked up two court notices issued by the People's Court of Haidian District on July 10 and September 22. The notices stated that the court has post
( [email protected] ) Oct 28, 2005 11:37 AM EDT

On Tuesday, House church leader Cai Zhuohua's defense lawyer picked up two court notices issued by the People's Court of Haidian District on July 10 and September 22. The notices stated that the court has postponed the court trial twice to obtain more evidence.

When asked by attorney Zhang Xingshui why the defense lawyers were not notified of the court decision earlier, the presiding judge replied that it was due to careless paper handling by the court. The lawyers took notice that both official notices from the court, which were issued at different dates, have the same court file number.

Pastor Cai Zhuohua is the leader of six Beijing-area house churches. Earlier this year he and three other family members were arrested by the Chinese authority for alleged printing of over 200,000 copies of Christian literature. Only one publisher, belonging to the Three Self Patriotic Movement, is approved by the government to print Bibles and Christian literatures at a limited amount.

The case have drawn significant international attention. Initial trial took place during early July, but the court reached no verdict. Nine lawyers and legal scholars have volunteered to defend Pastor Cai, only five were allowed by the judge to enter the court room. Since the initial trial, the case was delayed twice.

Some persecution watch agencies suspects that the court has plans to delay the prosecution until the attention dies down.

China Aid Association learned from a suspect released from the same detention center Pastor Cai was held that the pastor has meanwhile been forced to work peeling 50 pounds of garlic a day.

Legal scholars revealed to CAA that it is rare for prosecutors to initiate trial delays with both arrest warrants and indictments issued and the first trial taken place. They believe that the court is facing difficulty in proving the case against Pastor Cai and his family members.