The former commander of UN troops in Bosnia-Hercegovina has said he warned Slobodan Milosevic in 1993 a tragedy was waiting to happen in Srebrenica.
General Philippe Morillon promised not to abandon Muslims
Two years later, in July 1995, Serb forces overran the enclave and killed about 7,000 Muslim men and boys.
General Philippe Morillon, testifying at the Milosevic trial at The Hague, said the massacre still haunted him.
Mr Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The prosecution at The Hague tribunal is attempting to prove that Mr Milosevic had control over Serb forces in Bosnia and was therefore responsible.
General Morillon promised Muslims under siege by Serb forces in the UN-declared safe area of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia in March 1993, that he would never abandon them.
He told the tribunal that he feared that attacks by Muslim forces in which Serbian civilians had been targeted, had enraged the Bosnian Serbs and would result in fierce retaliation in the city.
"I knew the only person who could assist me was Mr
Milosevic and I went to tell him," he said.
The general, 68, said he told Mr Milosevic that there could be a "terrible tragedy" in the Muslim enclave if nothing was done to calm the situation.
"There was going to be terrible tragedy in Srebrenica and world public opinion would not forgive the Serbs," he said.
The general told Mr Milosevic: "You will be condemned and demonised."
The Srebrenica massacre took place two years after the general's warning
"Two years later, and I am still haunted by this today. I was proved right," he added.
In July 1995, after the French commander had left his post as head of the Unprofor, Serb forces carried out the Srebrenica massacre.
General Morillon said that Bosnian Serb commanders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who remain at large despite being indicted by the UN court for genocide, followed orders from Belgrade to prevent a massacre in 1993.
This, he said, showed Mr Milosevic did have power over them.
But in cross-examination, Mr Milosevic said that only showed he deserved credit for preventing a massacre.
"The influence I could have yielded - and that was
political influence - was used to stop the bloodshed over there... everything was stopped, isn't that right?"
Mr Milosevic asked.
"Precisely," General Morillon replied.
General Morillon's testimony is being heard in open court in the presence of two French government officials.
This contrasts with the procedure when former Nato commander Wesley Clark gave evidence at the trial, which was behind closed doors under a deal which allowed the US government to vet a transcript of the hearing.
General Morillon also described the level of hatred he found in Bosnia.
"They were in this hellish circle of revenge," he said.
"It was more than revenge that animated them all. Not only the men, the
women, the entire population was imbued with this.
"It wasn't the sickness of fear that had infected the entire population of Bosnia-Hercegovina, the fear of being dominated, of being eliminated. It was pure hatred."