|Pastor Zhang Shaojie|
(Nanle County, Henan—April 23, 2014) A detained pastor in China’s central Henan province has hired new lawyers for his trial, set to resume on April 29, after firing his original lawyers as a protest against the unfairness of the court during the opening court session two weeks ago.
China Aid reported that Pastor Zhang Shaojie of Nanle County Christian Church had fired Zhao Yonglin and Liu Weiguo in the courtroom during his April 10 trial to show his displeasure at the court’s refusal to conduct a fair trial (http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/04/tspm-pastors-trial-in-henan-adjourned.html).
Written records from four witnesses had been produced in court; however, the court refused to have the witnesses appear during the trial to validate the authenticity of the testimonies. The written records are believed to have been coerced from the witnesses, as all four were obtained while the witnesses were detained in a black jail.
Additionally, the authenticity of signatures on one document in particular, Li Cairen’s supposed statement, were called into question by the previous lawyers as it appears that the document, requiring the signatures of two officials, was signed by one person acting as two. Li is the alleged victim of fraud, specifically a 700,000 yuan (US$112,200) con, allegedly committed by Zhang Shaojie.
The trial was adjourned until further notice after the pastor fired Zhao and Liu in order for him to find new attorneys, which he recently accomplished. “My father’s case will be tried at 9 a.m. on April 29. The two lawyers are Li Dunyong and Zhang Xinyun,” said Zhang “Shanshan” Lingxin, who is Zhang Shaojie’s youngest daughter.
Shanshan said that the lawyers had visited her father at the Puyang Detention Center and were preparing for the trial.
Zhang Shaojie, accused of fraud and “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” was detained on Nov. 16 during a meeting with government officials at his church. More than 20 other believers were detained along with Zhang Shaojie from Nov. 15-17. The series of detentions arose after a group of believers attempted to travel to Beijing to petition authorities there about the outcome of a land dispute between the church and the Nanle County government.
Nine Christians remain in custody, three of whom are held in an undisclosed location. So far, only Zhang Shaojie has been to any court proceedings (see http://www.chinaaid.org/2013/11/three-self-sanctioned-church-pastor-and.html, http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/01/exclusive-identity-of-12-detained-nanle.html, and http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/02/three-nanle-county-christian-confirmed.html).
China Aid also learned that the government is still blocking the church. “Even today, many of the government’s people have been guarding the church and wouldn’t allow us to enter it. On Sunday, 10 people had a gathering. More than 20 government employees guarded the outside and wouldn’t let us enter the church. Many people guard our Christian church every day from morning until 10-12a.m.,” Ms. Li, a church member, said.
Bob Fu, President
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Website: www.ChinaAid.org | www.MonitorChina.org