By Michael Murungi
Assistant Editor, Kenya Law Reports.
Friends of Jesus v Tiberius, Emperor of Rome; Pontius Pilate; et al
Republic of Kenya Constitutional Petition No. 965 of 2007
A society of Christians has filed an unprecedented case in Kenya seeking a constitutional interpretation of the trial, sentencing and punishment or death of Jesus Christ. On 29th August, 2007, the Friends of Jesus, acting through Mr. Dola Indidis, a Christian, a lawyer and also the spokesman for the Kenyan Judiciary, filed a petition in the Constitutional Court in Nairobi against the States of Italy and Israel and a host of characters featured in biblical accounts of the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion i.e. the Emperor of Rome at the time, Tiberius; the Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate; the Jewish Chief Priest; Jewish Elders; Jewish Teachers of the Law and King Herod. The Kenya Civil Liberties Union has joined the proceedings as amicus curiae (friend of the court).
The Petitioners are challenging the mode of questioning, trial, sentencing and punishment of Jesus and are asking the court for a declaration that the proceedings before the Roman Courts in 42BC- 37AD were a nullity in law because “they did not conform to the rule at the material time”.
In a sworn affidavit, Mr. Indidis describes his fellowship of the Friends of Jesus as having bestowed upon itself “the sole responsibility and duty of preserving and protecting the image, authority, teachings and dignity” of Jesus Christ “according to the teachings of the New Testament”. The petition states that the purpose of the proceedings is to obtain a resolution of pertinent issue for Christendom and Jews: addressing the wrongs that were meted against Jesus particularly the legitimacy of the law under which he was tried and punished and the manner in which that law was applied.
The states of Italy and Israel have been named in the suit because, as the Petition states, upon the attainment of independence, the states incorporated the antecedent laws of the Roman Empire and the laws in force at the time of the crucifixion.