Anhui pastor tried a second time

Chen Shixin
(Photo: ChinaAid)

ChinaAid

(Huaibei, Anhui—March 10, 2018) A second trial session for a pastor in China’s eastern Anhui province commenced yesterday after his lawyer, who passed away suspiciously last week, had insisted the prosecutors re-evaluate their charge.

During the hearing, the prosecutors lowered the approximated value of property they accused Pastor Chen Shixin of damaging from more than 190,000 yuan down to 170,000 yuan (approximately $30,000 and $26,800 USD, respectively) but did not withdraw their charge. The deduction came in response to a request from Chen’s former defense counsel, Li Baiguang, who asked them to review the amount. Li died in a military hospital in the early morning of Feb. 26 under mysterious circumstances, and human rights lawyer Liu Peifu took up Chen’s case.

When the prosecutors presented the new estimated amount of damaged properties, Liu asked them how they arrived at their conclusion, and they said they had originally only performed a spot check. Subsequently, Liu demanded another evaluation on the basis that their methods failed to meet proper regulations.

When the court went into recess, Liu found Wang Hong, Chen’s wife, who was in attendance, and informed her that the presiding judge had approached him and urged him to persuade Chen to plead guilty. Liu refused, saying that his defense was based on facts.

Chen’s case arose after the Lieshan District government granted his church a plot of land that had been illegally occupied by a group of people from the neighboring Duji District for more than 20 years. Because they hoped to build a temple on the land, the group, which included a man named Li Wenqian, searched for reasons to frame the church and discovered the Chen had done some landscaping, so they told the authorities he had damaged their property.

Originally, both districts agreed that the land belonged to Lieshan District and that the original occupants had no right to it, but they never released an official document and later retracted the statement.

When Chen refused to return the land to him, Li Wenqian hired a woman surnamed Ren to kidnap Chen’s brother, but the authorities intervened.

On April 12, Li Wenqian was criminally detained for “intentionally damaging property,” and the public security bureau formalized Chen’s arrest on May 18. The case was transferred into the prosecution phase on July 20, and the trial of the first instance was held on Nov. 29.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Chen, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.


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