A 72-year-old bishop in China's underground Catholic Church was detained when authorities took him from a hospital as he was recovering from surgery, a US-based group said yesterday.
Bishop Jia Zhiguo (
The foundation said Jia might have been detained to prevent him from contacting a Vatican delegation that was in Beijing to discuss possible diplomatic relations between the communist government and the Holy See.
China bars Catholics from having contact with the Vatican and allows worship only in government-monitored churches.
Millions remain loyal to the pope and worship in secret, but priests and members of their congregations are frequently detained and harassed.
Jia, who was ordained in 1980, has been arrested nine times since January 2004, according to the Cardinal Kung Foundation.
It said that Jia also looks after some 100 handicapped orphans.
In its statement, the foundation didn't give details about Jia's surgery, but said he had a catheter in place when he was taken from the hospital.
"To kick a person out of a hospital and send him away for detention with his catheter still in place and without adequate medical care is obviously naked evidence of total violation of human rights in China," foundation president Joseph Kung said in the statement.
SENTENCED TO DEATH
Meanwhile, China sentenced three members of a local Christian sect to death for the murder of followers of a rival group
Three other members of the controversial underground religion are also likely to receive life sentences.
The court in Shuangyashan in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province ordered the execution of Xu Shuangfu, the 60-year-old founder of the "Three Grades of Servants," or Church of Truth, and members Li Maoxing and Wang Jun.
Three others were given death sentences with a two-year reprieve, a sentence that usually leads to life in prison.
Eleven other followers received prison sentences ranging from three to 15 years.
Lawyers for the accused said the court judgment was dated June 28, but was sent to them only on Wednesday.
"It is legally inappropriate to sentence them to death, and we will appeal," said Xu's defense lawyer, Li Heping.
Xu, also known as Xu Wenku, and the other members of the small church were accused of murdering 20 people, mainly members of the rival Oriental Lightning church, between 2002 and 2004.
Xu and others were also accused of defrauding others of 32 million yuan (US$4 million).
Prosecutors accused the Three Servants of brutally murdering former members who left to join Oriental Lightning, a rival Christian-inspired sect that was founded in Henan Province.
Xu and the other two sentenced to death will appeal their sentences, Li said.
He said that he was not sure about the other defendants' appeal status.
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