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ICC Note: Last year seven house church Christians were arrested by Chinese police and given prison sentences ranging from three to seven years for allegedly conducting “cult” activities. The charge of “cult” is sometimes used by Chinese authorities against any religious organization which conducts unauthorized meetings outside of government control. This includes anyone of the thousands of house churches where millions of Chinese Christians choose to worship illegally rather than attend the government controlled “three-self” church.
8/29/2013 China (ChinaAid) – The religious case of Ye County will be appealed in court at 10:30 a.m. on August 29. The case started on April 14, 2012 in the city of Pingdingshan, Henan Province and has aroused extensive concerns both in China and the rest of the world.
On Aug. 27-28, 2013, the 14 defense counsels of the seven defendants in the religious case arrived in Ye County, Henan Province. Most of these lawyers are Christians who originate from Beijing, Shanghai, Guizhou, Shandong, Henan and other places. Among them are Li Guisheng, Yang Xingquan, Chen Jian’gang, Zhang Jinhong, Zhao Yonglin, Wang Hongjie, and Wang Hui.
According to Li, director of Hengquan Law Firm in Guiyang, Guizhou, the judge in Pingdingshan Municipal Intermediate Court provided the lawyers with some supplementary investigation materials from the prosecutor. The judge, Qiao Jing, undertaking the case was chosen by Shi Weiping, a vice president of Pingdingshan Intermediate Court.
On Aug. 28, ChinaAid was informed by one of the lawyers that there had been little to no local interference as the lawyers went about the various tasks necessary to prepare for the trial. The one instance of interference was minor. On the afternoon of Aug. 28, while waiting to see their clients at the detention center, the lawyers began receiving unreasonable demands from the employees of the detention center. This led to a small-scale altercation that included detention center employees pushing some of the lawyers. Finally, however, the lawyers succeeded in meeting with their respective clients.
In the previous trial, held on April 1, 2013 at Ye County Court in Pingdingshan, the seven Christian defendants received sentences ranging from three to seven and a half years in prison. The lawyers and their defendants appealed to Pingdingshan Municipal Intermediate People’s Court on the grounds that the verdict disregarded facts and unscrupulously violated the citizens’ freedom of religious belief. The appeal hearing was originally scheduled to take place on July 4, 2013. However, on July 1, Pingdingshan Intermediate Court notified the defendants and their lawyers that the trial would be delayed in order for the court to obtain new evidence. For convenience, Pingdingshan Intermediate Court chose Ye County Court as the venue for the appeal.

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