Chinese Christian Bookstore Owner Still Held Without Trial

The owner of a Christian bookstore in China has been held in prison without charges longer than the legally permissible amount of time, according to Compass News Direct.

Shi Weihan, 37, has been in prison without an official charge for three months, even though Public Security Bureau forces are prohibited from holding Chinese citizens for more than two months without a formal charge. Weihan's relatives expected a hearing June 19, but it did not take place.

Police initially arrested Weihan on Nov. 28, 2007, charging him with "illegal business practices," but officials ordered his release Jan. 4, citing insufficient evidence.

He was arrested again March 19, and since then police have held him virtually incommunicado, denying all but one visit from his lawyer and refusing family visits.

Weihan's store, located near the Olympic Village, operated legally and sold books for which he had obtained government permission. However, according to Asia Times Online, he also printed Bibles and Christian literature without authorization under his Holy Spirit Trading Co. for distribution to local house churches.

According to Compass News, the Public Security Bureau has stated that it will delay action on the case indefinitely, raising questions about Shi's health and safety.

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