ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

Kenyan group wants to annul Jesus’ 'conviction'

They want "the court to declare ancient ' trial null and void

By Bogonko Bosire

NAIROBI, Aug 30, 2007 (AFP) - A case on behalf of Jesus Christ has come knocking on Kenya's High Court door, lodged by a fervent Christian group that wants his conviction declared "null and void" and his Crucifixion "illegal."Though cases to right historical wrongs are far from unusual around the world, Kenya's Friends of Jesus (FOJ) has reached back two millennia in what may redefine the quest for closure.

Jesus Christ: Not guilty

The petition was filed Monday with the court registrar, raising a novel set of legal quandaries -- not the least of which involves the statute of limitations and whether the high court has jurisdiction over the "Son of God."It was not certain when a ruling would be handed down.

But FOJ actually "might have a right in court because the issues raised touch on human rights and the high court has unlimited powers on that line,"high court spokesman Dola Indindis told AFP.

Little is known about FOJ, which does not proselytise and is reticent about its numbers, saying they cannot be counted in figures but in "the many who are ready to heed the Jesus teaching and be his friend."It is a Nairobi group that includes lawyers and wealthy businessmen who view their worldly fortune in this east African country where half the population lives below the poverty line as a gift from God.

They want "the court to declare Jesus' trial null and void ... because the (ancient) court that convicted Him was not properly constituted, the prosecutors violated the law of the time and the trial was a sham," Indindis said. The FOJ's lawyer Humprey Odanga said Jesus' Crucifixion was a wrongful punishment for a trial based on charges of "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" and should be corrected by modern law.

The case has triggered a buzz in Kenyan legal circles that sounds at times stranger than fiction, with Kenyan attorneys conceding that -- in pure legal terms -- the FOJ's complaint is legitimate but disagreeing on whether it is admissible in Kenyan courts.

Nairobi constitutional lawyer Albert Kuloba, for one, said the "FOJ should have filed it in the International Criminal Court (in The Hague) which has the mandate to hear that case."His reason? "The Kenyan courts do not have jurisdiction because the 'course-of-action' never arose within its jurisdiction." And "even if they have jurisdiction, the application is time-barred."The FOJ is determined, however. "We need the court to clarify, for the record, that Jesus was not a criminal. He advocated for the rule of law," one member told AFP. "Do you mean to worship a convicted criminal?"And the group has carefully laid out its case.

Under the Torah, or Jewish law based notably on the Biblical Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, if a man blasphemes the Holy Spirit he must be stoned to death, Odanga said.

Under Roman law that prevailed alongside the Jewish code at the time, crucifixion was the sentence for robbery, treason, rape and crimes against the emperor.

According to religious historians and the Bible, the Great Sanhedrin, the highest council of the ancient Jews, charged Jesus with blasphemy but Judea's Roman governor Pontius Pilate famously "washed his hands" of the case. He turned Jesus over to the high priests and the crowds, who responded: "Crucify him."For Odanga, this punishment was a violation -- not only did the Romans acquit him but the Jewish sentence for blasphemy was stoning, not crucifixion.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.