HomeBuisnessWitnesses to Roberts-Smith's execution are honest: a lawyer Pi News

Witnesses to Roberts-Smith’s execution are honest: a lawyer Pi News


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Former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has been criticized for trying to discredit eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen a veteran involved in the execution of two unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan.

In the second week of a Victoria Cross recipient’s wide-ranging bid to recover his defamation losses, the Court of Appeal has heard five witnesses called to support wrongful death claims.

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In June, Justice Anthony Besanko ruled that reports in 2018 by the Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and The Canberra Times that Mr Roberts-Smith had ordered a junior soldier to kill an elderly unarmed prisoner were true. .

The former SAS corporal was also found to have thrown another prisoner to the ground before firing the machine gun.


Mr Roberts-Smith has always denied wrongdoing and has not been prosecuted.

On Monday, barrister Nicholas Owens SC, representing the three newspapers, detailed why the findings that the 45-year-old committed or was complicit in war crimes should be upheld.

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He said the former SAS corporal attacked five witnesses called to support his version of events, despite admitting the soldiers were mostly honest and trustworthy.

“They (Mr Roberts-Smith) have been credible in everything except the fact that they choke the case,” Mr Owens told the court.

The murders took place during an Easter Sunday raid in 2009 on a complex known as Whiskey 108.

A tunnel was discovered inside the building after the SAS secured the compound, which had been hit by an earlier airstrike.

Nine and The Canberra Times reported that two rebels were found in the tunnel and later executed.

One of these mutineers had a prosthetic leg, which Mr. Roberts-Smith is said to have taken to Australia as a new beer-drinking vessel.

Mr Owens said the war veteran’s appeal had caused many problems.

Mr Roberts-Smith said the two men were legally killed because they were armed “squirts” who fled the scene of the battle.

According to court records, when the Whiskey 108 compound was cleared, there was no evidence of a fight with insurgents inside.

Photographs also showed the body of an elderly man lying near a tunnel inside the same complex, Mr Owens said.

“He was killed by a single gunshot to the head and you can see what was around him to show that he wasn’t moving,” the lawyer said.

While Mr Roberts-Smith initially disputed this, he eventually conceded that witnesses had given credible evidence about where the body was found and how the man had been shot.

The only option under appeal would be “absolutely devastating” to the war veteran’s claims that the men were lawfully killed rather than unlawfully executed, the court heard.

The fact that witnesses could not remember exactly how many people were found in the tunnel did not mean that reports of executions should be dismissed, Mr. Owens said.

Just because Mr. Roberts-Smith pointed to parts of Judge Besanko’s 2,600-count sentence that were clear and erroneous does not mean the entire decision should be overturned, the lawyer said.

The judge engaged in a “sophisticated and remarkable process of thought” that, while difficult to read, was sequential and arrived at the correct conclusion, Mr Owens said.

The court heard Mr Roberts-Smith kicked a handcuffed prisoner off a cliff near the village of Darwan in 2012 before ordering his execution.

He was also found to have ordered the killing of another prisoner after the discovery of an arms cache in the village of Chinartu that year.

The hearing is ongoing.

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