Shandong Court Holds Trial for Christians Accused of ‘Using a Cult Organization to Undermine Law Enforcement’
ICC Note: As noted in the New York Times on May 12, there is often a rush to judgment in the Chinese court system, often leading to collusion between prosecutors and police in order to produce high conviction rates. Christians and their advocates are learning how to overcome these injustices, but the odds against them are still very high.
By Rachel Ritchie
05/13/2015 Shandong, China (China Aid)
The trial of two Christians from China’s coastal Shandong province, accused of “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement,” took place on April 22-23, 2015.
Zhao Weiliang and Cheng Hongpeng were detained on June 25, 2014 when authorities raided a choir practice and took 22 church members into custody in Heze. Some of the church members were released the same day, and some were placed under administrative detention. Only Zhao and Cheng were placed under criminal detention and later under formal arrest. The group was accused of being members of the Born Again Movement, also known as the Total Scope Church.
One of Zhao’s lawyers Chen Jiangang, told China Aid that a large amount of evidence was presented by the prosecutor; however, “expect for the testimonies of two witnesses from the Heze Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau and the testimony of one witness from the Heze Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau, all the evidence was presented in the form of photocopies, not original documents. They are not valid, according to legal provisions.
“In addition, in the photocopied testimonies presented, almost every witness was persecuted and coerced,” Chen said. “The witnesses were forced to sign the testimonies during their interrogations. Some witnesses were beaten, tortured or threatened with a three-year prison sentence.
“After the adjournment, witnesses came to us and said ‘I never said anything like that, and they never asked me about that,’” Chen said. “The government employees forced Su Quangang to sign the fabricated testimony by threatening the 2-1/2-year-old Su was holding at the time. Su was then released on bail.
Chen told China Aid that authorities beat Zhao, forcing him to kneel on the floor while officers took turns kicking and slapping him following the trial’s adjournment on the first day.
The trial ended on April 23, and the judge said that the verdict would be announced at another time.