Shi Weihan and his family (China Aid Association photo)
A trial that reportedly had been scheduled for a “dangerous’ Chinese owner of a bookstore operation near the site of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing has been delayed, officials say, leaving concerns over his health and life mounting.
WND has reported in the past on the arrests of Shi Weihan, who was released at one point earlier this year for lack of evidence, but now is back in custody and has been called a “dangerous religious element.”
He owns a bookstore near the 2008 Olympics complex in Beijing and had been taken into custody shortly after Thanksgiving 2007 during police raids on his home and office on suspicion of illegal business practices, including allegations relating to the production of Bibles and Christian literature. He was released in January on the determination there was insufficient evidence.
The 37-year-old father of two then was re-arrested on March 19 and has been held since.
An American friend, businessman Ray Sharpe, had told WND at the time of the earlier arrest that Shi is a businessman who also works as a travel agent.
Now Compass Direct says a hearing that sources inside China had reported was scheduled this week to mark the end of three months of his detention without charges was not held.
Technically, the report said, Chinese “Public Security Bureau (PSB) forces are prohibited from holding Chinese citizens for more than two months without formal charges.”
“Despite having held Shi beyond the time legally allowed, absent formal charges or a court hearing, the PSB still refuses to allow his family or attorney to see him,” a source close to Shi’s lawyer told Compass Direct. “Claiming an ongoing investigation in what they are calling ‘a complex case,’ they have managed to hold the owner of a legally registered Christian bookstore in an undisclosed location without giving any assurances that he is receiving his needed diabetic medicine.”
The delays are raising questions and concerns about Shi’s healthy, because of his diabetes.
His attorney, Zhang Xingshui, has been allowed to visit Shi only once, noting that he was losing weight and showed signs of a possible “allergic reaction,” Compass Direct reported.
One source close to Shi’s lawyer said, “Were Shi to suffer dire health consequences or drop into diabetic coma, which can result in death without proper emergency treatment, it could leave the appearance that the PSB may have intended this very result.”
Shi last was reported in the custody of the Beijing City Public Security Bureau after having been transferred from the Haidian District Police Station.
WND reported earlier on a “blacklist” of people and groups of people China has been targeting specifically because of the coming publicity that will accompany the Olympic Games in August. Those targeted include religious leaders.
WND also documented a report that China would ban Bibles from its Olympic village for athletes. Chinese officials denounced that report, but have maintained on the Olympics website a demand that visitors to the Olympics bring no more than a single Bible with them.
The case involving Shi has gotten considerable attention at least partly because he is the father of a U.S. citizen.
Grace Shi, 8, was born during the family’s visit to the U.S. in 2000.
WND has reported on China’s apparent crackdown on Christians and Christianity in advance of the 2008 Games, including the expulsion of more than 100 foreign Christians in China in just a 90-day period, the biggest assault on the presence of Christianity in China since 1954.