It was one of the worst atrocities of the final years of the 20th century.

In July 1995, General Ratko Mladic and his Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the Bosnian town of Srebrenica - even though it had been declared a United Nations ‘Safe Area’ under the watch of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR).

That should have been sufficient to guarantee its freedom from any armed attack or any other hostile act. Instead, in the days following the fall of the town, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves.

Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl joined other invited guests at a special three day event in Srebrenica paying respects to its victims.

Mr Surl said: “Thousands of women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported and a large number of women were raped.

"It was the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

“I am deeply honoured to be among the guests who have been invited to attend a special ceremony next week in Srebrenica and pay tribute to those who died.

“The trip is being paid for by the Foreign Office and other supporters. In return, my job is to help publicise the event so that present and future generations will remember what happened in the hope it never does again.”

As details of the event and death toll emerged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled that the mass execution of Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica constituted genocide.

Judge Fouad Riad, who reviewed the indictment, described the 'unimaginable savagery' that the victims endured at the hands of Mladic’s forces.

He said these were 'truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history'.

In 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote: “Through error, misjudgement and an inability to recognise the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to help save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder.”