Death metal singer who tore up Bible is cleared

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A JUDGE in Poland has ruled a death metal singer who tore up a Bible during a show was entitled to do so as an artist acting in a way consistent with the genre.

Adam Darski, who goes by the stage name Nergal and is the frontman for the death metal band Behemoth, was charged with offending religion after he ripped up the Bible during a 2007 concert in Gdynia, in Poland's north.

He was found innocent by a court last year but prosecutors appealed. The court cleared him yesterday.

Concert video footage shows Darski throwing the torn pages to the audience and asking fans to burn them. According to 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.

In his ruling Judge Krzysztof Wieckowski said he 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 criticise 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.

"I'm so glad to see that intelligence won over religious fanatics in my home country. Though 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 leukaemia last summer and has been undergoing chemotherapy after a bone marrow transplant.