Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial: witness expected to deny wrongdoing in killing of Afghan villager

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An Australian worker alleged by 3 newspapers to person participated with Ben Roberts-Smith successful the “joint transgression enterprise” of murdering an Afghan villager named Ali Jan is acceptable to look successful the national tribunal this week arsenic a witnesser for Roberts-Smith successful his defamation enactment against the newspapers.

Anonymised earlier the tribunal arsenic Person 11, the SAS’s worker grounds volition beryllium captious to Roberts-Smith’s lawsuit implicit the events successful the colony of Darwan connected 11 September 2012, erstwhile Roberts-Smith is alleged, by the newspapers successful their defence, to person kicked a handcuffed Ali Jan disconnected a cliff earlier ordering him shot.

Person 11 is expected to contradict each wrongdoing, and to backmost Roberts-Smith’s relationship that the antheral killed successful Darwan – purported to beryllium Ali Jan – was an force spotter legitimately killed, arsenic the tribunal has heard successful erstwhile evidence.

Roberts-Smith, a recipient of the Victoria Cross, is suing the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times for defamation implicit a bid of ­reports helium alleges are defamatory and represent him arsenic committing war crimes, including murder.

The newspapers are pleading a defence of truth. Roberts-Smith denies immoderate wrongdoing.

The alleged execution of Ali Jan is the astir notorious allegation of this sprawling analyzable defamation case, which has spent astir a twelvemonth earlier the national court. The newspapers allege arsenic portion of their defence the execution was a “joint transgression enterprise” betwixt Roberts-Smith and his subordinate, Person 11.

Australian SAS patrols raided the colony of Darwan, successful Afghanistan’s confederate Uruzgan state connected 11 September 2012, seeking a rogue Afghan worker called Hekmatullah, who had killed 3 Australian soldiers 3 weeks earlier. Hekmatullah was not successful Darwan.

At the extremity of the mission, the newspapers allege that a husbandman called Ali Jan – visiting Darwan to bargain flour – was taken into custody and handcuffed by the Australian soldiers.

After Ali Jan laughed doubly astatine Roberts-Smith portion being interrogated, Roberts-Smith is alleged to person marched him extracurricular to the borderline of a tiny cliff wherever helium forced Ali Jan to kneel and past “kicked him hard successful the midriff, causing him to autumn backmost implicit the cliff and onshore successful the adust creek furniture below”.

“The interaction of the autumn to the adust creek beneath was truthful important that it knocked Ali Jan’s teeth retired of his mouth,” the newspapers’ defence states.

Two Afghan witnesses and one Australian worker person besides fixed evidence they saw Roberts-Smith footwear the antheral disconnected the cliff. One soldier, Person 4, told the court: “I saw the idiosyncratic smash his look connected a rock, and I saw the teeth detonate retired of his face.”

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According to the newspapers’ defence, Ali Jan did not dice successful the fall, but was past dragged into a cornfield and changeable dead. The newspapers allege: “After Ali Jan had fallen the afloat tallness of the cliff down to the adust creek furniture helium was moved by 2 soldiers … to the different broadside of the creek furniture wherever determination was vegetation. After helium had been moved … Ali Jan was changeable aggregate times successful the beingness of [Roberts-Smith] and Person 11.”

It is alleged Ali Jan was changeable by either oregon some of Roberts-Smith and Person 11 – “a associated transgression enterprise” according to the newspapers’ defence earlier court. The newspapers besides allege that some soldiers knew his decease was unlawful, and tried to screen it up by placing a vigor connected his assemblage to found a post-facto justification for sidesplitting him arsenic a “spotter”.

Roberts-Smith has consistently denied this account, telling the tribunal the antheral purported to beryllium Ali Jan was a spotter – a guardant scout who reports soldiers’ movements backmost to insurgents – who was discovered hiding successful a cornfield by different solider, Person 11, who instantly opened occurrence upon the insurgent.

Roberts-Smith said helium climbed the embankment to assistance Person 11 successful the skirmish and besides fired astatine the man, who was astir 2 metres away.

The antheral was killed and, Roberts-Smith said, recovered to beryllium successful possession of a radio. Roberts-Smith said the antheral killed was intelligibly an insurgent and a morganatic subject people who could beryllium killed wrong the laws of war.

The tribunal has heard grounds connected behalf of the newspapers that a photograph of Ali Jan, taken aft his death, showed his limb and wrist covered successful blood, but for a bladed “stripe” of wide tegument wherever determination was nary blood. This was alleged to beryllium grounds helium was successful handcuffs erstwhile shot. Roberts-Smith denies this.

A erstwhile SAS regimental sergeant large – Person 100 – volition statesman giving grounds Monday morning. Several soldiers person told the tribunal they reported concerns astir imaginable warfare crimes to Person 100 successful 2012 and 2013, but that thing was done to analyse oregon clasp soldiers accountable.

Person 11 is scheduled to travel Person 100 successful the witnesser box. It is expected helium volition beryllium successful tribunal for a fig of days.

Arthur Moses SC, acting for Roberts-Smith, told the tribunal Roberts-Smith himself would not get backmost successful the witnesser container to springiness grounds successful reply.

“The applicant [Roberts-Smith] won’t beryllium giving grounds successful reply … that’s the contiguous position,” Moses said.

Last year, Roberts-Smith spent 11 days successful the witnesser box giving grounds and being cross-examined.

The proceedings earlier Justice Anthony Besanko is expected to tally respective much weeks.