The trial against Adam Nergal Darski, the leader of the band Behemoth, and his two associates has begun before the Court of Appeal in Gdańsk. The case concerns the desecration of the Polish emblem. The court of first instance acquitted the accused, but the prosecutor’s office appealed. The court wants to confront the opinions of two experts who differed in their assessment of the case.
On Friday, the appeal process began in the Court of Appeal in Gdańsk in the case of insulting the Polish emblem by Adam Nergal Darski, as well as the other two defendants: graphic artist Rafał Wechterowicz and the team’s website and store manager – Maciej Gruszka (the defendants agreed to the publication of personal data – PAP). None of them appeared in court.
Judge of the Court of Appeal, Leszek Mering, informed that the court intends to conduct supplementary proceedings – to confront the opinions of two experts who issued different opinions in this case.
– The Court of Appeal sees the need to clearly explain this – said the judge.
The defender of the defendants, attorney Jacek Potulski, stressed that the court could overrule the verdict of the court of first instance or conduct supplementary proceedings and then decide whether it upholds the verdict or revokes it. I’m curious to see what this confrontation will look like. We had doubts about the work of one of the experts and his opinion. In our opinion, the expert commented on the graphic technique without having competence in this area – stressed the patron.
The next appeals court date was set for August 3.
“Graphic creation”, not an emblem
In May 2022 The District Court in Gdańsk acquitted Adam Nergal Darskithe leader of the band Behemoth and his two collaborators.
The trial concerned materials promoting Behemoth’s concert tour “Rzeczpospolita Niewierna”, which took place between September 30 and October 10, 2016.
According to the court of first instance, the graphic pattern on the “Rzeczpospolita Niewierna” poster is not an image of the Polish emblem. As the court emphasized, “although even for a layman it refers to the emblem”. In the justification, the court emphasized that “the subject of public insult described in Article 137 of the Criminal Code must be, among others, the emblem”. – Not a graphic creation, a graphic design referring to or similar to an eagle. According to the opinion of one of the experts, the project was created by the author from scratch and is not a rework of the emblem of the Republic of Poland – said the judge in the oral justification of the judgment.
Court of first instance: those who reported the crime did not even see the poster
Included in the materials on the posters, the graphic depicted a white eagle without a crown: instead, devil horns sprouted from the bird’s head. Two snakes, skulls and an inverted cross were inscribed in the figure of an eagle. The eagle was placed on a red background, and the whole was maintained in a style referring to the Polish emblem. Above the eagle there is also an inscription “Rzeczpospolita Niewierna”.
The court pointed out that the people who reported the crime had not seen the poster.
– The symbols used in the poster were understood as contrary to faith. For these people, faith is synonymous with Polishness. The Polish state is a secular state – said the judge of the first instance court and added that this case did not concern the violation of religious feelings, but state feelings.
The prosecutor demanded a year’s imprisonment for the defendants, with a conditional suspension of execution for three years, a fine, and a refrain from publicly displaying the poster created as part of the Behemoth band’s concert tour under the slogan “Rzeczpospolita Niewierna”.
It was another version of the same case
In April 2018, the District Court in Gdańsk acquitted all three defendants in this case for the first time. The prosecutor’s office appealed against this verdict. In September 2018, the Court of Appeal in Gdańsk quashed the judgment of the lower court and referred the case for reconsideration.
Main photo source: tvn24, press materials