Trial set in case of van­ished scholar

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG LINYAN in New York and ZHANG RUINAN in Urbana, Illi­nois

A man ac­cused of kid­nap­ping Zhang Yingy­ing, a vis­it­ing Chi­nese scholar, will face trial on Sept 12 af­ter plead­ing not guilty on Thurs­day in fed­eral court.

Brendt Chris­tensen, 28, of Cham­paign, was in­dicted eight days ago af­ter his ar­rest on June 30 on a charge of kid­nap­ping Zhang, 26, who at­tended the Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Ur­banaCham­paign.

Zhang has not been seen since a se­cu­rity cam­era showed her en­ter­ing the pas­sen­ger seat of the car of the sus­pect on June 9. Po­lice be­lieve she is no longer alive.

Un­like at two pre­vi­ous hear­ings, Chris­tensen spoke at the brief pro­ceed­ing on Thurs­day. He said he took the drug Klonopin, an an­tide­pres­sant, when asked by US Mag­is­trate Judge Eric Long if he took any med­i­ca­tion in the Ma­con County Jail in De­catur, Illi­nois, where he is be­ing held with­out bail.

He said the med­i­ca­tion did not af­fect his abil­ity to un­der­stand the charges against him, ac­cord­ing to the Cham­paign news­pa­per The News-Gazette.

An­thony Bruno, one of Chris­tensen’s at­tor­neys, said af­ter the pro­ceed­ing that the de­fen­dant has de­manded a jury trial and “plans to per­sist in his plea of not guilty”.

Bruno said the de­fense will re­ceive dis­cov­ery in­for­ma­tion in the next few weeks from the US At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

“I think this case could go on a year or more,” he said.

No new ev­i­dence was pre­sented at the hear­ing on Thurs­day, which was at­tended by Zhang’s fam­ily mem­bers. A pre­trial hear­ing was set for Aug 28.

Wang Zhi­dong, a lawyer

We urge the po­lice to make this case a pri­or­ity.” Liu Jun, act­ing Chi­nese con­sul gen­eral in Chicago

rep­re­sent­ing mem­bers of Zhang’s fam­ily, said the trial will prob­a­bly be de­layed.

“The Speedy Trial Act (of 1974) re­quires that a trial must be set within 70 days, but ei­ther side might file mo­tions re­quest­ing more time,” Wang said.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still on­go­ing, and both pros­e­cu­tors and de­fense at­tor­neys may have dis­cov­er­ies,” Wang said.

Wang said that af­ter the ar­raign­ment Thurs­day, Judge Long would pass the case to US District Court Judge Colin Bruce.

Wang also said Zhang’s fam­ily mem­bers would not re­turn to China with­out her and are hope­ful they will bring her home.

Liu Jun, act­ing Chi­nese con­sul gen­eral in Chicago, who at­tended the ar­raign­ment, said the Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in Chicago will fol­low the case closely and con­tinue to pro­vide as­sis­tance to Zhang’s fam­ily.

“We urge the po­lice to make this case a pri­or­ity,” Liu said. “It has drawn great at­ten­tion from the Chi­nese govern­ment and peo­ple.”

Liu said Zhang’s mother will not come to the United States in the near fu­ture be­cause she has been sick and has suf­fered a lot from her daugh­ter’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Con­tact the writ­ers at wan­glinyan@ chi­nadai­

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