Vocalist/guitarist Adam "Nergal" Darski of Polish extreme metallers BEHEMOTH attended a hearing earlier today (Wednesday, June 29) at the District Court in Gdynia, Poland in connection with a September 2007 incident when he reportedly called the Catholic Church "the most murderous cult on the planet" during the band's performance in Gdynia and tore up a copy of the Bible, calling it "a book of lies" (see video below).
While giving evidence on Wednesday as a witness, Darski confirmed that the Bible incident took place, but stressed that the concert at which it occurred was a closed event attended by several hundred people, none of whom felt offended by the tearing of the Bible and the accompanying words. "The only people who were offended were not at the concert, and they do not understand the context" in which the act was committed, he said. He added that every admission ticket to the show included a printed warning that no recording devices were allowed inside the concert venue and that any video footage of the incident was therefore made and distributed illegally. Darski also said that had no intention of offending anyone, explaining that the tearing of the Bible was "an artistic metaphor." He said, "I am a free man, living I hope in a free country. Although I do not publicly recognize the principles outlined in the Bible or the Ten Commandments, that does not mean that I am not a decent and useful human being."
In a statement released by BEHEMOTH's North American record company, Metal Blade Records, Nergal said, "I spent five hours in the court in Gdynia today. The case is back on track and there's still a few witnesses to be interviewed. It's way too early to give any further comment. I just hope the final verdict is gonna be positive for me. I have a feeling that I'm in this situation for right reasons and I'm not giving up. Cross fingers! The battle ain't over yet"
Darski's case had already been considered by the District Court in Gdynia. At the end of June last year, that court dismissed the case after determining that no crime had occurred. The prosecution subsequently filed an appeal and in September last year, the Gdansk Regional Court ordered the case to be reheard.
After the September 2007 incident, Ryszard Nowak, head of the All-Polish Committee for Defense Against Sects sued BEHEMOTH for promoting Satanism. Although a court expert witness on religious matters said that the act of destroying the Holy Bible could offend somebody's religious feelings, the case was discontinued because no one except Nowak accused BEHEMOTH of insulting their religious beliefs. (Under Polish law, there must be at least two formal complaints before a charge is laid. The previous complaint was made in 2008, and recently an unspecified number of other complaints had been filed.)
In a 2009 interview with Decibel magazine, BEHEMOTH bassist Tomasz "Orion" Wrblewski explained that the Bible-tearing incident was by no means a spontaneous outburst. "We'd been doing that for two years on tour before it happened in Poland," he said. "So, we had discussed it many times before. A BEHEMOTH show is a BEHEMOTH show, and BEHEMOTH fans are coming to a BEHEMOTH show. BEHEMOTH fans know what BEHEMOTH is about, know what the lyrics are about, and know at least a little of the philosophy behind the band. So, it's kind of surprising that there are people coming to the shows and feeling offended with what we do onstage. If such a person comes to a show, he comes with the purpose of being offended, I guess, and it shouldn't be like that. We're not offending any particular person. We're just offending the religion that we've been raised in."
Nergal commenting on today's hearing (in Polish):
BEHEMOTH's Adam "Nergal" Darski tearing up the Bible: