Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide, spoke live by telephone to a Serbian television channel from a Dutch jail Friday saying he was sending kisses, sparking outrage and increased monitoring from authorities.
It was the first time Serbs have heard the voice of the man once dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia since he was convicted in November 2017 for war crimes and genocide.
"Grandpa Ratko sends you kisses," the 75-year-old told the Happy commercial station.
Mladic was found guilty notably over the 1995 Srebrenica genocide -- Europe's worst slaughter since World War II. Serb forces led by Mladic killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Mladic's son Darko Mladic phoned him in jail Friday during a TV show and put the call on speaker.
Serbian ultra-nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, also condemned for war crimes, was present in the studio amid a cheerful atmosphere.
"Tell Voja (Seselj) to come and see me to play chess, the last time I beat him 7-1," Mladic joked with a trembling but also gleeful voice from his cell in the seaside resort of Scheveningen.
Mladic never admitted his guilt while many Serbs in both Bosnia and Serbia still consider him a hero who defended his people.
Bosnia's inter-ethnic war, that accompanied the collapse of Yugoslavia, claimed about 100,000 lives.
"Thank you general," TV presenter Milomir Maric repeated. "I hail notably Russia ... the communist party of the Soviet Union ... of Russia," Mladic said correcting himself during the nearly three-minute conversation.
The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which has taken over from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said that Mladic was not given a necessary prior approval to contact the media.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the detainee may have committed an offence," it said in a statement.
As consequence the MICT will listen and summarise his phone calls in the next 30 days, the statement said.
Serbian authorities constantly deny the massacre was a genocide, a view repeated by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic in an interview with German Deutsche Welle this week, labelling it a "hideous crime, it was a war crime".
"I am not happy because of it,(but) it wasn't done in the name of the Serbian people, and Serbs cannot be collectively blamed for what happened there." Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic told N1 regional television that the radio phone in "rubbed salt in our wounds".
In March, Mladic launched an appeal urging UN judges to acquit him on all charges.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)