Adam Darkski (R) at the Supreme Court on Monday: photo - PAP/ Rafal Guz
Poland's Supreme Court concluded on Monday that a person may be found guilty of offending religious sensibilities even if the defendant had not “directly” intended to do so.
The court was examining the matter in relation to an appeal against the 2011 aquittal of Robert Darski – frontman of internationally renowned rock group Behemoth - who tore up a copy of the bible on stage.
Darski's case will now be re-examined by a district court.
During the 2011 hearing, Darski's lawyers had argued successively that the 2007 concert was for a closed group of fans who had not been offended by the musician's behaviour.
Furthermore, the court accepted that the singer's actions were a kind of “artistic” performance, and that the singer had not “directly” aimed at offending religious sensibilities.
However, the Supreme Court has indicated in its Monday ruling that Darski's actions have legal ramifications beyond the concert arena.
“The crime of offending religious sensibilities is committed not only by he who intends to carry it out, but also by he who is aware that his actions may lead to offence being taken,” the court concluded.
While on stage, Darski called the Catholic Church the world's “most murderous cult” and tore up a copy of the bible, declaring it to be a “book full of lies.”
Darski had been brought to court by former MP Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the privately run Nationwide Defence Committee against Sects.
Following yesterday's hearing, Nowak declared his satisfaction with the ruling.
“A clear signal has been sent to all the courts in Poland that one must take care with regard to offending religious feelings.
Meanwhile, after emerging from court, Darski himself said that on the one hand “one should respect the court's verdict.”
However, he also claimed that his country's mentality “is immature, trying to gag people,” and that he was in court for “the good cause”, namely the right to “freedom of speech.”
The maximum penalty in Poland for offending religious sensibilities is a two-year prison sentence.
The case will now be examined by a district court in Gdansk, northern Poland. (nh)