Court sentences Three-Self pastor to 12 years on fabricated fraud charge, gathering crowdFriday, July 4, 2014
China Aid Association
(Nanle County, Henan—July 4, 2014) Zhang Shaojie, the pastor of the Nanle County Christian Church, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined 100,000 yuan (US $16,113) at 9:30 a.m., on July 4, Beijing time, by the Nanle County People’s Court in China’s central Henan province.
“This verdict is totally unacceptable,” Bob Fu, China Aid founder and president, said. “The so-called core evidence was collected illegally based on a forced confession. Even the key witness, Ms. Li Cairen, has been held in an unknown black jail.
“This case shows the Chinese government continues to cover up religious persecution with fabricated criminal charges against an innocent church leader,” Fu said.
Zhang was detained on Nov. 15, 2013, when he met with Nanle County authorities in the church—a meeting that turned out to be a set-up in order to detain the pastor. Zhang was later charged with gathering a crowd to disrupt public order and fraud, both of which he was convicted. The alleged victim of fraud, Ms. Li Cairen, has been detained in an undisclosed location since Dec. 21, 2013, when police caught her attempting to hide from them at the Zhang household (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/2014/06/3-henan-believers-released-after-almost.html).
Zhang’s lawyers explained that when Li’s son was killed in a work-related accident in 2010, Zhang helped her negotiate a compensation package with her son’s employer. Authorities claim that Zhang then blackmailed Li for part of the payment. However, as the lawyers pointed out, there is no reason for the victim to be held in a black jail. It is this unusual detention that led lawyers to speculate that the testimony against Zhang was coerced (see http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/02/pastors-trial-postponed-story-behind.html and http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/05/henan-pastors-trial-resumes-with-little.html).
Zhang’s wife and oldest daughter were allowed in the courtroom during the sentencing trial. Also present was Zhang Xinyun, who previous represented Zhang Shaojie. The Zhang family fired Zhang Xinyun after learning that he worked closely with the government. Authorities arranged for Zhang Xinyun to attend the hearing in order legitimize the sentence.
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Contact
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