The second appeal of a Beijing house church pastor, who was accused of bible printing, was declared a failure.
On Tuesday, Pastor Cai Zhuohua has attended a hearing in the First People's Intermediate Court of Beijing, Court Room Number 22. According to the U.S.-based Chinese Christian persecution watchdog the China Aid Association (CCA), the judge named Bai Jun announced that his appeal was rejected.
The failure of the second appeal implies that the last verdict on Nov. 8 will remain unchanged, meaning that Cai must face the three-year imprisonment for operating what the court called "illegal business."
The 34-year-old Cai was first arrested in September 2004 when the police found thousands of Bibles and Christian literatures in Cai's home. He was then accused of running an "illegal business" that printed Bibles and Christian literature. However, his lawyer Zhang Xingshui argued that Cai had no intention of selling the materials, but was going to distribute it for free.
Cai’s wife Xiao Yunfei and her brother Xiao Gaowen were also arrested. They received two-year sentence and one and a half years sentence respectively.
According to CAA, Cai was interrogated almost 90 times by both the State Security Bureau and the Public Security Bureau. An officer at the detention center told CAA that Cai was so fear of interrogation that his legs were seen trembling whenever his name was called.
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.
According to the international religious freedom report published by the U.S. Department of State, the increase in the number of Christians in the country has resulted in a corresponding increase in the demand for Bibles. Bibles can be purchased at many bookstores and at most officially recognized churches.
However, members of underground churches complain that the supply and distribution of Bibles in some places, especially rural locations, is inadequate. House Christians report that purchase of large numbers of Bibles can bring unfavorable attention to the purchaser. Currently, many foreign mission groups have been trying to tackle the challenge.
Meanwhile, Cai's case has been widely reported by human rights organizations and religious freedom watchdogs. The U.S. President George Bush has even referred to the case when speaking to officials in Beijing in November.