Church accountant stands trialTuesday, January 24, 2017
|Zhang Xiuhong (left)|
(Photo: China Aid)
(Guiyang, Guizhou—Jan. 24, 2017) The local Procuratorate tried a Christian woman on the false charge of “illegal business operations” today after holding her for a year-and-a-half.
A hearing for Huoshi Church’s accountant and chairwoman of the board of deacons, Zhang Xiuhong, commenced on Jan. 23 at 9:00 a.m. Zhang received the charge of “illegal business operations” after she withdrew church funds at her beauty shop, and authorities took her into police custody on July 28, 2015. Her defense lawyers, Xiao Yunyang and Li Guisheng, plead not guilty on her behalf and argued that the transaction was an invalid piece of evidence, since she did not benefit from it.
The judge has yet to sentence her, but the Procuratorate suggested she be jailed for five to seven years.
During her final statement, Zhang admitted she was a Christian, urged the court to judge impartially, and proclaimed her determination to accept any punishment she received.
The defendant’s husband, Chen Zukai, was allowed to invite three people to hear the trial but could only convince the couple’s son and Zhang’s good friend to attend.
According to Chen, Zhang appeared to be in a relatively satisfactory mental condition.
This trial comes in the wake of a hearing for Yang Hua, Huoshi Church’s pastor, who has been serving prison time for various charges since Dec. 9, 2015. On Dec. 26, 2016, he appeared before the court and was later sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for “divulging state secrets.” His wife, Wang Hongwu, reported that authorities forbade her to leave her home on the day of Zhang’s court session and stationed guards outside her door. Su Tianfu, another of the church’s pastors, was similarly forced to remain in his house.
Throughout Zhang hearing, police blocked off the area surrounding the court and examined passing vehicles.
China Aid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Zhang and Yang, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.
ChinaAid Media Team
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