On Saturday, the Haidian District People¡¦s Court in Beijing announced that the verdict will be given on Tuesday for the long awaited case of Pastor Cai Zhuohua and three of his family members.
According to China Aid Association, lawyers of Pastor Cai received a formal notification from the presiding judge of the case to appear to court on Tuesday 9am Beijing time to receive the verdict.
The decision will be reached before President Bush¡¦s visit to China; some legal experts sees this as a positive sign.
Cai and three family members, his wife and two of his wife¡¦s relatives, were arrested in September 2004 for conducting illegal business practices. Cai printed over thousands of copies of Bibles and Christian literature without government consent.
The case has been the center of international attention and human rights group protests. The first hearing took place on July 2005, however no verdict was reached. Since then, the court has prolonged to announce Cai¡¦s sentence until the recent notification.
Around the same time, a top law firm known for its active defense for human rights and religious freedom was ordered by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice to close for one year. Hours before the firm was notified, Gao Zhisheng, the director of Beijing Shengzhi Law Firm and also one of the lawyers representing Cai in the case, filed parole documents to the Beijing court for Cai and his family.
The firm has been involved in many high profiled cases in the past, including defense for Falun Gong practitioners.