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Chinese officials announce the date of pastor Yang Hua's trial

(Free Yang Hua official website)The banner for the campaign to free Yang Hua

A house church pastor who has been incarcerated in China for a year will finally have the chance to defend himself in court after the authorities announced the date of his trial.

The Nanshan District People's Court in Guiyang sent a notice to Chen Jiangang, the defense lawyer of Pastor Yang Hua, informing him that the trial of his client will take place on Dec. 26, 2016, China Aid reported.

Yang, whose real name is Li Guozhi, was arrested on Dec. 9 last year after he attempted to prevent officials from confiscating a hard drive during the raid of his church.

The next day, Yang was charged with "the crime of obstructing justice" and "gathering a crowd to disturb public order," and he received two consecutive five-day administrative detention sentences.

On the day he was supposed to be released, his wife saw him being led away into an unlicensed van. She was told that he has been charged with "illegally possessing state secrets" and that he was being transferred to another detention center. On Jan. 22, the charge against Yang was changed to "divulging state secrets."

His lawyers filed a lawsuit in June alleging that Yang had been tortured to force him to confess. The pastor narrated to his attorneys that one of the prosecutors threatened to kill him and feed him to the pigs.

"No one here sympathizes with you. Do you know why the pigs on the pig farm behind this building are so fat? We can turn you into food for pigs, which is one way to die," the prosecutor allegedly told the pastor.

When his lawyers visited him last September, they discovered that Yang has been suffering from serious health conditions. The officials refused to pay for his treatment even though he contracted the illnesses while he was at the detention center.

Yang wrote a letter to his wife in November telling her not to worry about his health. He encouraged her to have faith in God despite the difficulties they are encountering.

"Rest in God's arms. 'Some rely on chariots, some on horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord,' [Psalm 20:7]. Be upright and take care. Be prepared for the rest of the road. I will go with you. If the Lord doesn't allow it, not a single hair [from your head] will drop to the floor," said Yang in the letter.

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