(Photo: China Aid)
Updated on Dec. 19, 2016 at 10:21 a.m.
(Guiyang, Guizhou—Dec. 14, 2016) A lawyer recently received a notice from a local court in China’s central Guizhou province announcing the trial of his client, an incarcerated house church pastor.
The Nanshan District People’s Court in Guiyang issued Chen Jiangang, the defense attorney of Li Guozhi—who is commonly known by his alias, Yang Hua—a notice that his client’s trial was scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2016.
After two pre-trial sessions in which officials discussed how to carry out court proceedings, Yang’s lawyers, Chen and Zhao, wrote to local authorities and requested the case be transferred to a different court, arguing that the Nanming District People’s Court might be controlled by a government branch dedicated to persecuting Huoshi Church. Additionally, they asked that Yang’s prosecutors, whom they sued for torturing him to extort a confession, not preside over the case and go before a judge for questioning.
Yang’s wife, Wang Hongwu, was not permitted to attend the pre-trial meetings because the case was classified as containing state secrets, and she does not know whether she will be allowed to hear the trial.
At the time he was taken into police custody, Yang pastored the largest non-government church in Guiyang, the capital of the province. On Dec. 9, 2015, Yang attempted to prevent authorities from confiscating a hard drive during a raid. The next day, he received two consecutive, five-day administrative detention sentences for “the crime of obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” When his wife came to pick him up on Dec. 20, 2015—the day of his release—she saw him wearing a black hood and being herded into an unlicensed van. Officials told her that he had been charged with “illegally possessing state secrets” and was being transferred to a different detention center for criminal detention. On Jan. 22, he was arrested, and his charge was changed to “divulging state secrets.”
A translation of the notice is forthcoming.
China Aid reports abuses, such as those suffered by Yang Hua, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom in China.