Three Controversial Religious Leaders Sentenced to Death; One More House Church Leader Arrested in Sichuan

July 20, 2006

MIDLAND, Texas, July 6 /Christian Newswire/ — China Aid Association learned in the verdict of the first trial of a controversial religious group, three leaders were sentenced to death and another three were given two-year suspended death sentences. One more House Church leader was arrested at Sichuan Province today.

According to a reliable source that obtained a copy of the verdict issued by the Chief Judge Mr. Liu Qingyi of Intermediate People’s Court of Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province, June 28, and delivered to the defense lawyers July 5, 2006, among the seventeen convicted in this case, Mr. Xu Shuangfu (60-years-old), Mr. Li Maoxing (55-years- old) and Mr. Wang Jun (36-years-old) were sentenced to death for murder, Ms. Zhang Min (35- years-old), Ms. Zhu Lixin (37-years-old) and Mr. Ben Zhonghai were given two-year suspended death sentences on the same charge. The remaining eleven received 3 to 15 year sentences.

Ms. Xu Baiyin, Mr. Xu Shuangfu’s daughter, who was notified of her father’s death sentence by the lawyers, told CAA this morning she believed her father is innocent and said, “The truth will be revealed one day before God’s judgment seat even if the justice is not done in this life.” CAA learned Xu has instructed his lawyers to continue to appeal to the high court. Two well-known defense lawyers Mr. Li Heping, Esq., of the Global Law (Gaobo Longhua) Firm, Beijing, and Mr. Zhang Lihui, Esq., of the Beijing Branch of the Xingyun Law Office, Zhejiang Province believe their clients are not guilty based upon the government’s evidence. According to the defense statement, the two lawyers found Xu Shuangfu’s confession was obtained by severe torture.

According to the prosecution paper accusations, in the period from 2002 to 2004, Mr. Xu Wenku (also known as Xu Shuangfu and Xu Shengguang) along with sixteen of his top leaders, murdered twenty leaders of the Eastern Lightning group. Xu was also accused of defrauding his congregation of over thirty- two million Yuan ($4 million).

Xu has been the leader of the Chinese religious group known as the Three Grades of Servants with a nationwide membership of over half a million. CAA believes that while many of mainstream Chinese House churches identify Mr. Xu’s group as doctrinally cultic, nevertheless, their basic constitutional rights should be protected.

Meanwhile, one more House Church pastor was arrested at 2:10 PM, July 6 (Beijing Time) at No. 4 Village, Hongshan Town, Langzhong City, Sichuan Province. Pastor Wang Shixiu (46-years-old) was shopping in her village when she was arrested by the PSB. Seven of the thirty leaders who were arrested May 28th, are still in custody. Dr. Li Baiguang, a legal scholar who met with President Bush in May, has taken up this case as the pastors’ legal representative. The Langzhong City government has agreed to an administrative review on July 5th.

CAA also learned that in the past few months, the city of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province has launched a campaign to clamp down on house churches there. With the exception of the house church led by well- known leader Pastor Samuel Lamb, most of the house churches there have been pressured to close. Two major ones, Meixin House Church and Wu Yang House Church had already been forced to shut down. One leader, who wishes to remain anonymous, told CAA that the police even brandished AK-47 rifles in a recent raid on his church.

CAA calls upon the international community to continue to press the Chinese government to respect the Chinese citizens’ constitutional rights on religious freedom. CAA urges the Chinese government to immediately release these pastors.

Premier Wen Jiabao, PRC
PO Box 1741, The State Council, Beijing, PRC (zip code 100017)
Contact Phone:+86-10-66012399
Email: gazette@mail.gov.cn

Ms. Wu Aiying, minister of Ministry of Justice of PRC
Tel: +86-10-65205114
Fax: +86-10-64729863
Email: pufamaster@legalinfo.gov.cn
Address:No. 10, Nan Da Jie, Chaoyangmen, Beijing City (Zip Code: 100020)

Issued by CAA on July 6, 2006

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