Six Catholic Priests Arrested in Hebei; Beijing House Church Leader to Undergo Court Examination

Two new reports surface in the light of recent controversies behind China's assessment of religious freedom.
( [email protected] ) Nov 30, 2005 09:12 AM EST

Two new reports surfaced in light of recent controversies behind China's assessment of religious freedom.

Six Catholic priests were reportedly arrested. The priests originated from the Zhengding diocese, the diocese overseen by Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo who had been the subject of frequent arrests by the Chinese authorities for his leadership of the underground Catholic movements.

Coinciding the event was a court notification from the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing calling for a formal examination concerning house church pastor Cai Zhuohua's second trial. The examination is scheduled to take place on the morning of November 30.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reports that two priests, Wang Jin Shan and Gao Lingshen, were both arrested and beaten while four other priests were confined to house arrest at first, and then later arrested. They are currently being held in the Gaochen Security Bureau.

On Nov. 8, in his eighth arrest since 2004, Bishop Jia is still in custody. The authorities said that the bishop was detained for a "study session," a term used to repeatedly talk to someone into joining the Patriotic Association, the government-approved Catholic authority in China.

China Aid Association (CAA) revealed that the First Immediate Beijing court has issued a 48-hour notice to Cai's sister-in-law Hu Jinyun that the arrested pastor will undergo court examination for a second trial on Wednesday.

Three attorneys represent Cai in the trial, however the presiding judge denied a request made by one of the attorneys Dr. Teng Biao for all the attorneys to be present at the examination. Teng argued with the judge over the phone saying that it is illegal to question his client without his client's attorneys present.

CAA also reports that the Chinese police placed Cai's mother under 24-hour surveillance from November 18-24. Cai's mother, Cai Laiyi was quoted by Reuters days after the court sentenced her son to 3 years in prison for illegal business practice, printing and distributing thousands of Bibles and Christian literatures from Beijing.