The Croat organization that filed a complaint in France against Bob Dylan has said it is not seeking monetary damages. The group said it was offended by comments made by the American folk singer in a magazine last year.
Ivan Jurasinovic, the lawyer representing the Council of the Croat Community and Institutions of France (CRICCF), which filed the complaint, said on Tuesday that the group wasn't particularly keen on seeing the folk singer convicted in a possible court case.
"We hope he will apologize and we are ready to accept an apology," Jurasinovic said. "A conviction will not repair the damage as much as an apology will."
Also on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Paris prosecutor's office, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, confirmed to the Associated Press that the charges of "public insult and inciting hate" had been filed against the 72-year-old Dylan in mid-November.
The comments, which the CRICCF found offensive, were made in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine last year in which he was asked about race relations in the United States.
"Blacks know that some whites didn't want to give up slavery - that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can't pretend they don't know that," the singer said.
"If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that," he added. "That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood."
The remarks appeared to be in reference to the World War II era when Croatia was ruled by the fascist organization Ustasha. The Nazi puppet regime implemented racial laws and operated concentration camps in which tens of thousands of Serbs, but also Jews, Roma and others were killed.
Hostilities between Croats and Serbs came to the surface again during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, leading to all-out war between 1991 and 1995.
Asked by the DPA news agency about why the CRICCF filed the case, its secretary-general said Dylans comments had cast all Croatians in a bad light.
"The Croats were not compared to Americans and Germans; they were compared to the Ku Klux Klan and to the Nazis. Croat criminals do not represent all Croats," Vlatko Maric said.
There has been no comment from Dylan about the preliminary charges against him.
Under French law, such charges also don't mean the matter will automatically wind up in court. An investigating magistrate now has to decide whether to pursue or dismiss the case.
pfd/hc (AFP, dpa, AP)