Share and Follow

Allegations Ben Roberts-Smith dragged a prisoner with a prosthetic leg outside an Afghan compound before machine-gunning him were backed up by numerous witnesses, a court has heard.
The decorated war veteran is appealing a Federal Court judgment that in June dismissed his defamation case over 2018 reports about his involvement in the murder of four unarmed prisoners while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2012.

On Tuesday, a barrister representing the newspapers behind the reports said allegations about the murder of a prisoner with a prosthetic leg outside a compound called Whiskey 108 had been corroborated by four soldiers.

Ben Roberts-Smith arrives at Federal Court.
The decorated war veteran is appealing a Federal Court judgment. (Louise Kennerley)

Roberts-Smith claims he shot the man because he was a “squirter” – a Taliban insurgent fleeing the compound.

But barrister Nicholas Owens SC said three witnesses gave “strikingly coherent accounts” of the 45-year-old ex-soldier manhandling the man before throwing him to the ground and machine-gunning him in 2009.

“All three of them support that coherent and essential narrative,” he told the Full Court.

A fourth witness said he had seen the body on the ground and recognised the man as a prisoner who had been brought out of a tunnel discovered in the Whiskey 108 compound.

The media reports were published by the Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, as well as The Canberra Times.

Roberts-Smith denies any wrongdoing and has not been criminally charged.
Roberts-Smith denies any wrongdoing and has not been criminally charged. (James Alcock)

They alleged that, in addition to killing the man with the prosthetic leg, Roberts-Smith also ordered a junior member of the SAS to kill another unarmed prisoner found in the Whiskey 108 tunnel in order to “blood the rookie.”

Again, the Victoria Cross recipient does not dispute the killing occurred, but he claims the man was shot lawfully.

Owens said there was a “powerful inference” the junior soldier, known as Person Four, had stopped to put a suppressor on his M4 rifle before shooting the man in the head.

“It is inconsistent with a legitimate engagement because it implies a level of premeditation for want of a better word,” he said.

“That is only consistent with the illegitimate nature of the killing because there is no reason to conceal a killing which is a lawful engagement.”

Roberts-Smith was also said to have kicked a handcuffed prisoner off a cliff before ordering his execution near Darwan in September 2012 and separately ordering the execution of a prisoner after a weapons cache was found in Chinartu in October that same year.

On Tuesday, Owens rejected the ex-SAS corporal’s attack on the original findings by Justice Anthony Besanko that the reports were substantially true.

He argued the judge had engaged in “thorough, detailed (and) careful” reasoning in his 2600-paragraph judgment.

The barrister urged the appeals court to dismiss arguments by Roberts-Smith’s lawyers that Justice Besanko had not adequately explained why he had accepted certain pieces of evidence and rejected others.

“Obviously I can’t make such a facile submission as to say look how long this judgment is already, are you really saying it should be longer?” he said.

“One cannot seriously contend that this judgment does not reflect a very careful and thorough analysis of the issues, factual and legal, that were thrown up in a very complicated case.”

If Roberts-Smith succeeds on his appeal, the Full Court will need to consider whether to make new findings on its own or to send the case back for a further supplementary hearing or a complete retrial.

The trial ran for 110 days over about a year and was estimated to have cost the parties at least $25 million before the appeal.

Roberts-Smith denies any wrongdoing and has not been criminally charged.

Share and Follow
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Donald Trump has a month to shell out nearly $700 million

A New York judge formally ordered Donald Trump to pay US$454 million…

Revealed: The best family cars to buy in 2024

The Drive Car of the Year winners have officially been announced –…

Couple charged after allegedly importing drugs inside their bodies

A couple has been charged with allegedly importing 255 grams of heroin…
Line graph showing the projected increase of dementia in Australia between 2010 and 2058

Dementia could become our leading cause of death. Here's how you can reduce your risk

Hundreds of thousands of Australians have dementia, and a new study has…

Jesse Baird and Luke Davis remembered as 'magical' and 'beautiful souls'

Friends and colleagues of Jesse Baird and Luke Davis have remembered the…
Fox Sports 'Golden Boy' Jake Duke is dumped by Seven's Grace Fitzgibbon after he received a late-night call from a female colleague

Fox Sports 'Golden Boy' Jake Duke makes NRL commentary return after being dumped by Seven's Grace Fitzgibbon following a late-night call from a female colleague

Jake Duke has returned to his duties as a sideline NRL commentator…

Cyclone won't reform but heavy rain, winds coming for WA

Ex-cyclone Lincoln had been lingering off the coast of Western Australia for…
A koala rests on a branch

74 koalas died in Victoria. One farmer has to pay thousands for his role in their demise

An 85-year-old farmer has been handed a $34,000 fine for his role…