Easter is a period that people often look forward to with so much joy and planning. For the almost 70 million Christians that live in Africa, Easter symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. The oldest Christian-claimed holiday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance, followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost. What do Africans make of the season?
In 2013, a Kenyan lawyer sought to get justice for Jesus Christ, arguing that the trial and crucifixion of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago was unlawful. Dola Indidis, a former spokesperson of the Kenyan judiciary, petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICC), based at The Hague, to nullify Jesus’ conviction and death sentence.
He named defendants including Pontius Pilate, King Herod, the former Emperor of Rome, and the states of Israel and Italy in the lawsuit he filed with the ICC, Kenyan media reported. “I filed the case because it’s my duty to uphold the dignity of Jesus and I have gone to the ICJ to seek justice for the man from Nazareth,” Indidis told Standard Media. “His selective and malicious prosecution violated his human rights through judicial misconduct, abuse of office bias and prejudice.”
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According to the New Testament, Jewish authorities arrested Jesus Christ on the charges of blasphemy after he had performed miracles and claimed to be the son of God. Jesus was brought to Pontius Pilate, then the Roman Governor of Judea. Pilate told the Jewish authorities that he did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and sent him to King Herod. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.
Jesus was found not guilty of any charges. However, crowds of Jews called for him to be executed, compelling Pilate to have him crucified together with two criminals.
Indidis’ case challenged the “mode of questioning used during Jesus’ trial; the punishments meted out to Him while proceedings were still underway; and the substance of the information used to convict him,” the Daily Mail reported.
He hoped the court would declare that “the proceedings before the Roman courts were a nullity in law for they did not conform to the rule of law at the material time and any time thereafter.”
“Some of those present spat in his face, struck him with their fists, slapped him, taunted him, and pronounced him worthy of death,” he said. Indidis further explained that he included modern-day states in the suit because they have previous ties to the Roman Empire. “The government for whom they acted still is answerable for their act,” Indidis told Kenya’s Citizen TV. “Pontius Pilate was acting under the government of Rome, which was headed by Caesar.”
“Evidence today is on record in the Bible, and you cannot discredit the Bible,” Indidis said.
The Kenyan lawyer believed he had a good case, highlighting the trial of Joan of Arc as evidence that there is precedent for his request. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who was burned at the stake. The verdict in her case was reversed years after her death by a papal commission. “This is the same case with Jesus,” said Indidis. “The judge who sentenced him said that he had no jurisdiction to attend to the matter but he went ahead to convict and pass a capital sentence under duress.”
Legal experts argued that the Kenyan lawyer was fighting a losing battle as the ICJ, created to resolve disputes between states, has no jurisdiction over the matter. And that’s exactly what happened, according to media reports. Indidis had turned to the ICJ after a 2007 petition to a Nairobi court was dismissed.