Metal group ‘arrested on terrorism charges due to band name’

Frontman claims band were branded as Satanists by police in Georgia

Greek metal outfit Rotting Christ were reportedly arrested in Georgia last week on terrorism charges allegedly relating to their band name.

According to a statement from the group, as reported by The Quietus, the black metallers were stopped by police as they attempted to leave the airport in the Eastern European state’s capital of Tbilisi last Thursday (April 12).

Frontman Sakis Tolis said that he and brother/drummer Themis Tolis “had our passports and mobile phones taken away and were [led] into a prison cell”.

“When we were demanding to be told the reason for this arrest, we were simply told this information would be ‘confidential’,” Sakis alleged, with reports suggesting that the band’s name could have come into play.

Sakis continued: “Our lawyers informed us later that we are on a list of unwanted persons of national security that branded us as Satanists and therefore suspects of terrorism.”

“Without previous warning and no official reason, we found ourselves in jail, locked into a small and rather dirty cell and without being permitted any contact to the outside world or legal representation or our embassy for 12 hours. Conditions were bad and no further information provided during this time.”

The pair were eventually released, with Sakis explaining: “Luckily, only the names ‘Tolis’ were on the list and the other two band members started to work with the local promoter to extract us from prison and commence legal procedures. It took strong efforts and a complicated procedure to find a solution.”

Sakis said that he and his brother were released in time for their band to play their planned gig in the country.

“Due to the hard work of the local promoter, who involved legal experts, journalists, and activists in Georgia, we were finally released. We are extremely grateful to everybody involved in this process. In the end, we were even able to perform our show and it turned out to be a fantastic night. We would also like to thank all our Georgian metal brothers for their overwhelming support!”

The band are said to have successfully left Georgia and continued their tour in Armenia.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has since denied the reports, telling NME in a statement: “They weren’t arrested by Georgian police forces, they just checked the band’s members passports. After that, all of them were allowed to cross the border.”

In 2016, Rotting Christ briefly changed their name in response to protests in South Africa.

Rotting Christ play Incineration Festival in London on May 13. They are currently touring in support of their new compilation album ‘Their Greatest Spells’.