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Chinese businessman waits for court ruling, exoneration

ICC Note

Chinese officials brought Shi Weihan, a Chinese Christian bookstore owner, before a court after imprisoning him for more than one year. Shi had been printing and giving away Bibles and Christian literatures.

04/20/2009 China (BP)-Shi Weihan, the Chinese Christian bookstore owner who has been imprisoned for more than a year, appeared in court April 9 and his family reported that he appeared thin but healthy, according to a news release by China Aid Association April 17.

Shi’s attorney spent three hours defending him in court, noting that Shi’s acts “did not constitute a crime because he was not engaged in illegal business acts and he did not disturb the social or market order.” Shi, jailed since March 19, 2008, has been accused of printing and giving away Christian books and Bibles without government permission.

The court appearance was a step forward in the family’s struggle for Shi’s freedom because several previous court dates had been postponed over recent months, China Aid said.

While imprisoned, Shi signed a confession stating that he had printed books and Bibles without government permission, but he said they were given away as gifts, not sold, and therefore did not constitute illegal business practices.

China Aid reported that Shi, in the confession, said he printed the books because many churches and Christians in China lacked Bibles and Christian literature to guide them. Where such books were available, lives were being transformed and people were becoming better citizens, he said.

Shi’s attorney said a verdict is expected within 45 days of the court appearance. If convicted, Shi could spend three to four additional years in prison.

Also in China , Zhang Mingxuan, known as Pastor Bike, head of the Chinese House Church Alliance, continues to be harassed by government authorities. On March 21, more than a dozen plainclothes officers arrested and interrogated him, forcefully searched him and threatened him with death, China Aid said.

As persecution continues in China , eight human rights groups in the country released a joint statement to the Chinese government, calling for officials to address the frequent violation of human rights.

Concerned American citizens are encouraged to call the Chinese Embassy in Washington at 202-328-2500.

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