WARSAW, Poland – A Polish judge has found a death metal singer innocent of offending religious feeling, ruling that his ripping up of a Bible during a show was a form of artistic expression consistent with the style of his band.
Adam Darski, who goes by the stage name Nergal and is the frontman for the death metal band Behemoth, was charged after he ripped up the Bible during a 2007 concert in Gdynia, in the country's north.
He was found innocent by a court last year but prosecutors appealed that verdict. The court issued an innocent verdict Thursday.
Concert video footage shows Darski throwing the torn pages to the audience and asking fans to burn them. According to the Polish news agency PAP, he also called the Bible "a deceitful book" and the church a "criminal sect" -- strong language in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Judge Krzysztof Wieckowski, in issuing his ruling, said it considered Darski's actions "a form of art" consistent with the style of his band. He added that the court had no intention of limiting freedom of expression or the right to criticize religion.
The court said audience members who testified said their religious feelings had not been hurt despite the fact they were Christians.
The musician said on his band's website that he was pleased with the verdict.
"Im so glad to see that intelligence won over religious fanatics in my home country. Tho there's still so much work to be done to make things right," he wrote in English under his stage name.
The 34-year-old was not present in court. A celebrity in his homeland, he has been largely out of the public eye for months.
According to the website, Darski was diagnosed with leukemia last summer and has been undergoing chemotherapy after a bone marrow transplant.