Behemoth frontman Nergal has been fined over £3,000 for allegedly stamping on artwork that depicts the Virgin Mary.
It comes after the Polish musician, whose real name is Adam Darski, posted the photograph from a shoot for his Me And That Man side project on Facebook in 2019.
According to Notes From Poland, Nergal has been convicted of “offending religious feelings” and been ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 złoty (£2,900) and court costs of almost 3,500 zloty (£678).
But he has disputed the claim and the case is now expected to proceed to a full trial. If found guilty the frontman could face up to two years in prison.
Conservative legal group Ordo Iuris and an organisation known as Towarzystwo Patriotyczne (The Patriotic Society) claim to have notified authorities that Nergal had allegedly “offended the religious feelings of four people”, including a politician from Poland’s ruling conservative coalition, when he first posted the photo.
“In the course of proceedings, the aggrieved parties were questioned and they clearly stated that their religious feelings were offended,” stated Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokeswoman for Warsaw district prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutors’ evidence was said to have been backed by the witness testimony of an “expert in religious studies” who deemed that “treading with a shoe on the image of the Mother of God is an offence against religious feelings,” according to Skrzyniarz.
The investigation also cited Article 196 of Poland’s penal code which claims: “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.”
NME has contacted Nergal’s publicist for comment.
The frontman previously stood trial for blasphemy charges for tearing a bible on stage in 2010 but eventually won the case.
The gym staff took exception to Nergal’s t-shirt – which featured the logo of Norwegian black metal legends Darkthrone – before asking if he had Christian beliefs. Nergal responded by telling them that he wasn’t a man of Christ.