For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Presiding Judge Commits Illegal Acts, Biased Towards Prosecution In Case of Christians Accused of ‘Illegal Business Operations,'” China Aid, November 23, 2023:

(Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region – November 22, 2023) November 21st was the second day of the trial for the case involving ten Christians, including Wang Honglan, who were accused of “illegal business operations” for selling the Holy Bible.

According to an unnamed attendee at the trial who declined to be identified, the court exhibited clear favoritism toward the prosecution. He believes that the court should take a position of judicial impartiality and not show bias towards either party.

Although it was an open trial and the public are allowed to attend, the court prepared a witness list, and nobody on that list was allowed to attend the proceeding.

On the first day of the trial on the November 20, the defense lawyer Fang Xiangui pointed out to the panel that the witnesses prohibited from attending the trial were those prepared to testify in the court. As for individuals interrogated by police during the investigation phase, as long as the panel did not allow them to testify, they should be allowed to attend the trial.

Other lawyers later mentioned that surprisingly on the following day the presiding judge agreed to this request, allowing those who were not allowed to testify in court to attend. However, this led to a shortage of seats for attendees. To ensure that close relatives of the defendants could attend, some people had to leave the courtroom. Another defense lawyer, Song Hongtao, saw this situation and requested the judge to either provide more seats for attendees or allow them to stand in the courtroom. The presiding judge did not respond to this proposal.

On the afternoon of the November 21, the same situation occurred again. Lawyer Song Hongtao raised the request once again, but the presiding judge thought that lawyer Song Hongtao had too much sympathy for the defendants. Lawyer Song Hongtao immediately challenged the judge and asked why defense lawyers should not have sympathy for the defendants.

It is understandable for the prosecutor to dislike the accused due to the dislike of the crime. In such a situation, the sympathy of defense lawyers for the accused can balance the prosecutor’s dislike. In the confrontation between these two emotions, the panel should act as a fair arbitrator.

Now, the presiding judge expressing dissatisfaction with defense lawyers’ sympathy for the accused clearly indicates a loss of a neutral position, leaning towards the prosecutor….