|Pastor Juncai Li of the forcibly-demolished Yuanyang Church awaits verdict.
(Yuanyang County, Henan Province* China—Nov. 10, 2020) Pastor Juncai Li of the forcibly-demolished Yuanyang County Central House Church continues to await a court verdict for charges of crimes of position encroachment, obstruction of public affairs, and destruction of accounts. When the local court tried Pastor Juncai in August, the public prosecutor suggested a six and a half to nine and a half years prison sentence. At the end of the first trial, the court did not issue a verdict, but ruled to return the case to the local procurator for retrial.
On February 21, 2019, Yuanyang County government authorities sent approximately 200 people, including policemen and officials from the Yuanyang County Bureau of Religious Affairs, to the Central House Church. There, they demolished the cross on the church and removed slogans inside the building that displayed sayings like, “Love your God,” “Love God and people,” and “Love your neighbor.” Authorities also forced church members to raise a Chinese five-star, red flag.
|Yuanyang Church, prior to being demolished, cost more than RMB 30 million yuan ($4,538,304 USD).
Regarding the case of Pastor Juncai, Mr. Wang, another local believer, said, “It has been almost three months since the first trial, and yet no sentence has been pronounced. At that time, the public prosecutor recommended to the court that the imprisonment term be six and a half to nine and a half years. Soon afterwards, however, the court ruled to return the case to the local procurator for retrial.”
Several legal professionals familiar with Pastor Juncai’s case maintain, “what Pastor Juncai has done does not constitute a crime. The charges by the authorities against him consist of unclear facts and insufficient evidence.”
Meanwhile, Pastor Juncai, detained since February 20, 2019, awaits the verdict anticipated in August 2020.
*often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzho
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