By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) A court in Beijing found Christian bookstore owner and house church leader ,Shi Weihan, guilty of “illegal business operation” and sentenced him to three years in prison and fined him 150,000 Yuan fine ($22,000) for printing and distributing Bibles for free, his defense team and Christian supporters said Thursday, June 11.
According to the law, his jail time prior to the trial counts as part of his three-year sentence time, said advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA). It is believed he could be free by late November next year.
Six others stood trial together with Shi Weihan, also received criminal sentences Wednesday, June 10, CAA said. It is believed that these individuals were share holders and executives of the printing company which printed the Bibles.
Christians said Shi’s store operated legally, sold only books for which he had obtained government permission, and that his Holy Spirit Trading Co. printed Bibles and Christian literature without authorization but only for free distribution to local house churches. The 38-year-old Shi had been released on Jan. 4, 2008 due to insufficient evidence for the same vague charge of “illegal business operation,” but he was arrested again two month later, on March 19.
He has been held since last year, despite concerns over his health, CAA and other sources said. Despite his apparent serious medical diabetic condition, the lawyers’ prior applications for medical parole were reportedly never granted by Chinese authorities.
CAA said that the appeals process could take up to a year, while Shi Weihan would remain in prison. “It is still uncertain whether the family will file an appeal due to the enormous pressure from the Public Security Bureau (PSB),” China’s main law enforcement agency, the group explained.
Friends have expressed concerns about the situation saying Shi Weihan’s wife Zhang Jing is “bearing much of the burden for the family.” Her main concern is caring for their two daughters, 12-year-old Shi Jia and 8-year-old Shi En Mei, and continuing the house church work, she has said in previous statement.
Authorities continue to pressure their family, CAA said. “Friends of Shi Weihan and his family ask Christians around the world to pray that Shi Weihan’s health would be protected, wisdom for the family regarding whether to appeal the conviction or not, favor for a possible medical parole and God’s peace and favor in these difficult circumstances,” the group said.
CAA said it has learned that Christians can request the “immediate release” of Shi Weihan via calling Chinese officials Tang Long, City of Beijing Deputy Secretary General (+86-10-62362008) or Liu Jianchao, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (+86-10-65963342).
In addition “Encouraging letters” to Shi Weihan could be send to Qinghe Detention Center of the Haidian Sub-Bureau 2585, Longgang Road, Qinghe Town, Haidian District, Beijing China, CAA said. Shi Weihan’s wife, Zhang Jing, and their two daughters, Shi Jia (12) and Shi En Mei (8) can be reached via 3207, Jisheng Villa, West Sanqi, Haidian district, Beijing municipality, China, the group added.