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Beijing House Church Pastor Receives Another Verdict

Beijing house church Pastor Cai Zhuohua has been given another hearing after he was sentenced to three years for printing Bibles and Christian literature.
( [email protected] ) Dec 15, 2005 09:59 PM EST

Beijing house church Pastor Cai Zhuohua has been given another hearing after he was sentenced to three years for printing Bibles and Christian literature.

The new verdict is set for Dec. 20 at the First People's Intermediate Court of Beijing, according to the China Aid Association's government sources.

The sources said that Cai was interrogated almost 90 times by both the State Security Bureau and the Public Security Bureau. An officer at the detention center where Cai was being held told CAA that because of the interrogation, Pastor Cai's legs were seen trembling whenever his name was called.

On Nov. 8, he was convicted along with his wife Xiao Yunfei who received two years, her brother Xiao Gaowen who received one and a half years, and his wife, Hu Jinyun who was exempted.

They were arrested last year in September for running an "illegal business" that printed Bibles and Christian literature. The charge was made towards thousands of Bibles and Christian literatures found in Cai's home. His lawyer, Zhang Xingshui said in November that Pastor Cai had no intention of selling the materials, but was going to distribute it for free.

The Chinese government only allows Christians to worship in state-sanctioned churches, and the printing of Bibles and religious publications needs to be approved by the State Bureau of Religious Affairs. Bibles cannot be openly bought or sold at bookshops, therefore there is a limited amount to be distributed.

Meanwhile, Pastor Cai's case has been widely reported by human rights organizations and religious freedom watchdogs, and was used as an example for President Bush to use while he was in Beijing in November promoting U.S.-China relations.

"The whole world will watch this case closely," Bob Fu, president of CAA said, in order to see "whether Chinese citizens are indeed having true religious freedom or not."