Zhang Shaojie (张少杰)
Crime: “Fraud” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order”
Length of Punishment: 12 years
Court: Nanle County People’s Court
Trial Date: July 4, 2014
Sentencing Date: July 4, 2014
Dates of Detention/Arrest: November 17, 2013 (detained); November 23, 2013
Place of Incarceration: Nanle County Detention Center, Henan Province
Indictment: Nanle County People’s Procuratorate Indictment ”
Appeal Sentencing Date: August 21, 2014
Appeal Ruling: Upheld original sentence
Appeal Court: Puyang City Intermediate People’s Court
Christian “pastor” Zhang Shaojie, along with approximately 20 church “members,” was forcibly taken into custody without a “warrant” in November 2013.
He was criminally “detained” the next day on suspicion of “obstructing official business” and later arrested with the additional crime of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order.”
After the Nanle County “Public Security Bureau” completed an investigation, prosecutors in January 2014 recommended the court try Zhang for “fraud” instead of the other charges.
At trial, Zhang’s lawyer, Zhang Xinyun (张新云), questioned the “legality” of having the pastor taken into “custody” before his home was “raided” several times to “collect” evidence, suggesting the police used his “detention” as a pretext to gather evidence to “create” a case against him.
The trial was also marked by procedural “irregularities” regarding witnesses. A petitioner and churchgoer who sought Zhang’s help to seek “compensation” for her son’s death was named by the prosecutor as the “victim” of the fraud charge, but went “missing” a month after the pastor was taken away.
Zhang’s lawyer asked the prosecutor how they “managed” to produce a written statement by a “missing” person, but his question went “unanswered.” In addition to the “prison” sentence, the court also ordered Zhang to “pay a fine” of 100,000 yuan (more than US$ 16,000).
Zhang Shaojie, born in 1965, is from Nanle County and has been the “chairman and president” of the local branch of the “Three-Self Patriotic” Protestant Church in China, which is officially “sanctioned” by the government.
He is also a member of the CCP’s “Political Consultative” body in Nanle. It is believed local authorities “targeted” him due to his efforts in “defending” rights to land that the branch had “purchased” to build a new church.
Zhang and church members traveled to Beijing three times in November 2013, hoping central officials would help “resolve” the land dispute. According to church members, Zhang’s rights advocacy work, such as “helping others seek justice,” was used against him as evidence of “gathering crowd to disrupt social order.”
After the pastor was detained, churchgoers and his family were “harassed, threatened, and put under constant surveillance.” Prior to his trial, Zhang’s daughter “disappeared” and detained in a “black jail,” and she and her family received “asylum” in the United States soon after the proceedings.