After ten months in detention, a verdict is expected in trials of three prominent house church leaders. According to an August 4 report from the China Aid Association, the defense attorneys and family members have been notified to appear at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, August 6.
The arrest of Liu Fenggang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi stemmed from a report Liu carried out on the suppression of Christians in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan District July 2003, in the course of which more than a dozen house churches were destroyed and at least 300 Christians were arrested, with some subjected to physical abuse.
After traveling to Hangzhou in July to learn more about the incident, Liu released his report to overseas organizations such as the Illinois-based “Christian Life Quarterly” magazine, and the Pennsylvania-based Christian Aid Association.
Public Security officers from Xiaoshan District detained Liu Fenggang when he returned to Hangzhou in October to carry out further research. Eight police officers searched Liu’s home on October 15 and confiscated a number items, including a computer belonging to Xu Yonghai.
New York-based Human Rights in China reported that Xu Yonghai had assisted Liu by printing the report, and Zhang Shengqi helped spread it through the Internet. Xu and Zhang were also accused of sending out information on an investigation the three made about the case of Li Baozhi, a house church Christian who was sentenced to one and a half years ‘re-education through labour’ after she was accused as an “evil cult member.”
Since their arrest, the three believers have been remained in detention awaiting a verdict. According to the Chinese Criminal Law, they could face up to 10 years even life in prison if convicted.
“These charges are simply baseless and absurd,” said CAA President Bob Fu. ”First of all, the accused ‘evil cult,’ Chicago-based Christian Life Quarterly magazine, is a well –known, world-recognized evangelical Chinese Christian magazine. Secondly, to report a court case open to the public doesn’t involve any national intelligence at all. Thirdly, if report the truth like this is regarded as ‘national secret’, people will inevitably wonder how much more such secrets haven't been revealed under the tight secret system in China.”
CAA is urging the international community to continue to build up pressure for the release of the three imprisoned believers.