Behemoth’s Nergal Acquitted Again for Allegedly Insulting Poland’s Coat of Arms Merch Design
Behemoth's Nergal is celebrating an acquittal in a court case in which he stood as one of the accused for allegedly disrespecting Poland's national coat of arms with some band merchandise. If this sounds familiar, it's because it is as the musician had already been charged once, with the case dismissed in 2018, only to have a new appeal filed in 2020 with Nergal once again emerging victorious.
This all started in 2017 when Nergal, the merch designer Rafal Wechterowicz and Behemoth webmaster Maciej G. were all charged with insulting the Polish coat of arms with their Behemoth "The Republic of the Unfaithful" merch design. The shirt displayed a demonic eagle wrapped in two snakes behind an inverted cross on a red background. The design was also used to promote the Polish leg of the band's touring.
In 2017, Nergal was summoned for questioning by Polish prosecutors in Gdansk over the design. The shirt proved hugely popular, becoming their "highest selling" shirt at the time.
In April of 2018, charges against the three men were dismissed. "Dismissed and all three of us are free of all the absurd charges," Negal proclaimed at the time. But the case would not be completely over, as an appeal would be filed in 2020.
Upon being told of the appeal, Nergal stated, "So some idiots still claim that 'The Republic of the unfaithful' [Behemoth] logo is a sacrilege of Polish national emblem. It is NOT in fact. But they insisted to reopen the case to investigate further. They think that copyrights of white eagle is solely owned by Poland and every other interpretation of the bird is a blasphemy. My antagonists seem to be sooo desperate to nail their favorite scapegoat to their rotten moral cross that they missed all the common sense in the narrative."
He continued, "They accuse us of anti-Polish act. If u ask me, spending hours in the court, engaging all the people around (journalists, judges, lawyers etc etc) spending xxx tax money on another absurd case is DEEPLY anti-Polish. We all could have saved this time to do something creative, couldn't we?"
Now, two years after the appeal was filed and five years after the initial claims were brought against Nergal, the designer and Behemoth's webmaster, all three men have been acquitted. The ruling was announced in a Gdansk court on Friday (May 6). Per the judge’s ruling, experts determined that the design in question was seen to heavily allude to the Polish national emblem, but was in fact an original work created from scratch. As such, it did not qualify for being a direct modification of the emblem.
Speaking via social media after the last ruling, Nergal offered, "Fuck yeah! Acquitted again!!"
He went on to explain, "This has begun over 3 years ago, when one of the PIS politicians felt that Behemoth has offended Polish National Emblem with a design which was used to promote Polish leg of a Behemoth's tour. Obviously, nothing of such was happening. And it's been sooo clear for everyone except for the right wing politicians and their fans. Yet the the politicized prosecutor's office launched an investigation and accused us of insulting the Polish emblem."
The singer stated, "3 years ago the first court hearing was held. Eventually we won and were all acquitted. Then, the prosecutor appealed and the appellate court recalled the case to the 1st instance for reconsideration. And now we have been acquitted again! But the story continues, have your fingers crossed. Still, it's the second battle won in a row! Thank you all who made that happen, thank the Judge for being fair, open minded and reasonable. And brave in such strange times… ART & logic vs. religious fanatics 3 : 0 ***** *** i KK @too_many_skulls @manticore677 @behemothofficial @behemothwebstore"
As for Nergal's comment that "the story continues," it still remains a possibility that another appeal could be filed.
It's not the first time Nergal's been in legal hot water. In 2010, the musician was tried in Poland for blasphemy after ripping up a Bible on stage and calling it a "book of lies." Eventually, the courts dropped those charges.
See Behemoth in 25 Legendary Extreme Metal Albums With No Weak Songs