Behemoth frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski has reportedly been convicted for offending religious feelings.
A court in Warsaw ordered Nergal to pay a fine of 15,000 złoty (approximately $5,210) and 3,500 zloty in court fees (approximately $1215) after the extreme metal frontman shared photo on social media of a foot stomping on a picture of the Virgin Mary.
The photo was reported to prosecutors by Ordo Luris — a conservative legal group — and an organization called the Patriotic Society (Towarzystwo Patriotyczne). The report alleged that Darski had “offended the religious feelings of four people,” including a politician from Poland’s conservative ruling coalition.
“In the course of proceedings, the aggrieved parties were questioned and they clearly stated that their religious feelings were offended,” shared Aleksandra Skrzyniarz Warsaw district prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutors also consulted an expert in religious studies, whose “opinion clearly concludes that treading with a shoe on the image of the Mother of God is an offence against religious feelings,” Skrzyniarz continued.
Per article 196 of Poland’s penal code, “Whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by publicly insulting an object of religious worship, or a place designated for public religious ceremonies, is liable to pay a fine, have his or her liberty limited, or be deprived of his or her liberty for a period of up to two years.”
Nergal intends to contend the judgement and is set to appear in court at a later date. Throughout his provocative career, Darski has faced a multitude of accusations of offending religious freedoms.
In 2008, the head of the National Committee for Defence against Sects reported him to prosecutors for destroying a copy of the bible during a Behemoth concert in Gdynia. The case was ultimately dropped.
In 2011, Nergal was acquitted in Poland on charges he insulted religious sentiment when he proclaimed that the Catholic Church is “the most murderous cult on the planet”
Amnesty International has previously called on Polish authorities to repeal legal provisions like article 196 of the Criminal Code, that criminalize statements protected by the right to freedom of expression.