Adam "Nergal" Darski, singer/guitarist for Polish black metal unit Behemoth, is looking at another courtroom battle over a 2007 incident that saw him tear up a bible onstage in Gdynia, Poland. While previous court rulings dismissed the blasphemy charges against the musician, Poland's Supreme Court has now weighed in and said he can be tried criminally for his actions.
If found guilty of offending religious feelings (the same show had Nergal proclaim the Bible to be a "book of lies" and that the Catholic Church is "the most murderous cult on the planet"), he faces a maximum of two years in prison.
While Nergal will be tried in a lower court, the Supreme Court paved the way for the case to be reopened by noting that despite his claims that he did not intend to offend any in attendance at that 2007 concert, he still committed a crime under Poland's criminal code.
Nergal's lawyer Jacek Potulski will continue to fight for his client under the position that it was performance art and that the charges limit freedom of speech.
"[The decision] is negative and restricts the freedom of speech. The court decided that this is allowed in a democratic system," he told Reuters. "We are still arguing that we were dealing with art, which allows more critical and radical statements."
Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the Nationwide Defence Committee Against Sects, meanwhile, believes Nergal crossed the line with his actions, and that the Supreme Court has made the right choice to allow a lower court to try him. "The Supreme Court said clearly that there are limits for artists which cannot be crossed," he had previously said in a TV interview.
Nowak had also sued the band in the past for promoting Satanism.
Last year, a judge ruled that Nergal's actions fell in line with Behemoth's anti-religious M.O. and felt that despite the musician's controversial position, penalizing him for criticizing religion would be limiting his rights to freedom of speech. A new court date has yet been set.
Read a new interview with Behemoth here.