Court hearing for three Chinese Christian leaders delayed

( [email protected] ) Mar 15, 2004 02:45 PM EST

China - A Chinese court delayed a hearing for three Christians accused of “providing intelligence to overseas organizations”, according to sources from the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). The case, which was originally scheduled for Monday, is now scheduled for Tuesday. The court did not give specific reasons for the delay.

Liu Fenggang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi will face the charges in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou. Liu was arrested in Hangzhou on October 13, 2003, and his home was searched on October 15. Sources say that Liu had been researching a comprehensive report on the official suppression of the house church movement in the Zhejiang Province following the arrest of more than 300 church members in July 2003. According to sources, the police subjected the Church members to physical abuse and inflicted damage to their house of worship and private homes where they gathered. . Xu Yonghai was arrested on the evening of November 9 along with his wife, following the search on October 15, while Zhang was arrested in Jilin province the same month.

The People’s Intermediate Court in Hangzhou will hold a hearing Tuesday for the three men, who only recently received official notification of the charges against them and hired attorneys. VOM sources say a verdict is not likely to be announced immediately after the hearing, but days or even weeks later.