Nergal Acquitted Again in Polish Coat of Arms Merch Case

Behemoth’s Nergal celebrates an acquittal in a court case in which he was one of the defendants for allegedly disrespecting Poland’s national coat of arms with group merchandise. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s as if the musician had already been charged once, with the case being dismissed in 2018, only to have a new appeal filed in 2020 with Nergal once again out. victorious.

It all started in 2017 when Nergal, merch designer Rafal Wechterowicz, and Behemoth webmaster Maciej G. were all accused of insulting the Polish coat of arms with their Behemoth “Republic of the Infidels” merch design. The shirt displayed a demonic eagle wrapped in two serpents behind an inverted cross on a red background. The design was also used to promote the Polish leg of the band’s tour.

In 2017, Nergal was summoned for questioning by Polish prosecutors in Gdansk over the conception. The shirt proved extremely popular, becoming their “best selling” shirt at the time.

In April 2018, charges against the three men were dismissed. “Fired and the three of us are cleared of all absurd charges,” Negal proclaimed at the time. But the case would not be completely closed, since an appeal would be filed in 2020.

After being informed of the appeal, Nergal said: “So some idiots still claim that ‘The Republic of the Infidels’ [Behemoth] logo is a sacrilege of the Polish national emblem. It is NOT actually. But they insisted on reopening the case for further investigation. They believe that the copyright of the white eagle belongs solely to Poland and that any other interpretation of the bird is blasphemy. My antagonists seem so desperate to nail their favorite scapegoat to their rotten moral cross that they’ve missed all the common sense in the narrative.”

He continued: “They accuse us of anti-Polish act. If you ask me, spending hours in court, hiring all the people around (journalists, judges, lawyers, etc., etc.) spending xxx taxes on a another nonsensical case is DEEPLY anti-Polish. We could all have saved that time to do something creative, right?”

Now, two years after the appeal was filed and five years after the first complaints were filed against Nergal, the designer and webmaster of Behemoth, all three men have been acquitted. The decision was announced by a court in Gdansk on Friday May 6. According to the judge’s decision, experts determined that the design in question strongly alluded to the Polish national emblem, but was in fact an original work created from scratch. As such, it was not a direct modification of the emblem.

Speaking via social media after the latest ruling, Nergal offered, “Fuck yeah! Acquitted again!!”

He went on to explain, “It started over 3 years ago, when one of the PIS politicians felt that Behemoth had offended the Polish national emblem with a design that was used to promote the Polish leg of a Behemoth tour. Obviously, nothing like that was happening. And that’s so clear to everyone except right-wing politicians and their fans. Yet the politicized prosecutor’s office opened an investigation and accused us of insulting the Polish emblem.”

The singer said: “3 years ago, the first court hearing took place. In the end, we won and were all acquitted. Then the prosecutor appealed and the court of appeal sent the case back to the 1st instance for reconsideration. And now we have been acquitted again! But the story continues, fingers crossed. However, this is the second battle won in a row! Thank you to everyone who made this possible, thank you to the judge for being fair, open-minded and reasonable. And brave in these strange times… ART & logic vs religious fanatics 3:0 ***** *** i KK @too_many_skulls @manticore677 @behemothofficial @behemothwebstore”

As for Nergal’s comment that “the story continues”, there is always a possibility that another appeal could be filed.

This isn’t the first time Nergal has been in legal hot water. In 2010, the musician was tried in Poland for blasphemy after he tore up a Bible on stage and called it a “book of lies”. Eventually, the courts dropped those charges.

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Martin E. Berry