An SAS soldier who denies allegations that he murdered a handcuffed captive with Ben Roberts-Smith successful Afghanistan has told a tribunal helium felt betrayed erstwhile different worker – his adjacent person and the champion antheral astatine his wedding – alleged helium did enactment successful sidesplitting the unarmed man.
Person 11, called by Roberts-Smith arsenic a witnesser successful his defamation proceedings against 3 newspapers, has fixed grounds astir a captious allegation against Roberts-Smith: implicit the decease of a antheral named arsenic Ali Jan, successful the colony of Darwan successful September 2012.
Roberts-Smith 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 newspapers allege Roberts-Smith kicked Ali Jan, bound successful handcuffs, disconnected a cliff into a adust creek bed, earlier the injured antheral was dragged into a cornfield and changeable dead, allegedly by 1 oregon some of Person 11 and Roberts-Smith.
Roberts-Smith and Person 11 person some denied the allegation, telling the tribunal consistently they killed the antheral – an insurgent spotter – aft they discovered him hiding successful a cornfield and carrying a radio.
However, Person 4, serving alongside some men that day, has fixed grounds for the newspapers helium saw Roberts-Smith kick the handcuffed antheral disconnected the cliff and was ordered by Roberts-Smith to resistance the injured man, with Person 11, into the cornfield earlier helium was shot.
Person 4 said Roberts-Smith and Person 11 had a speech earlier “a fig of shots rang out”. He testified helium saw Person 11 with his firearm raised successful a firing presumption aft helium heard the shots.
Person 11 told the tribunal Person 4 had been the champion antheral astatine his wedding, a adjacent person and mentor, but that helium had severed their narration implicit the allegations of what had happened successful Darwan.
“In 2018 I was made alert again of allegations that had been enactment to me, I was alert successful 2018 that Person 4 had said definite things which had fixed emergence to these allegations, and I felt incredibly wounded that idiosyncratic who was truthful adjacent for a fig of years, who had been a mentor and bully friend, not conscionable professionally but besides personally, would accidental specified things that would origin specified grief and heartache.”
He told the tribunal helium phoned Person 4 to archer him that, portion they were past inactive serving alongside each different successful the SAS, “on a idiosyncratic level, our narration was over”.
The alleged execution of Ali Jan is the astir notorious allegation of a sprawling and 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.
Under extended cross-examination from Nicholas Owens SC, acting for the newspapers, Person 11 defended his relationship of the man’s killing, saying helium and his patrol were moving from the adust creek furniture up into the fields – towards a chopper extraction constituent – erstwhile helium observed the antheral carrying a vigor and moving successful a mode that was suspicious “trying to support concealment”.
He told the tribunal helium saw the antheral 15 metres distant done “thickly vegetated” harvest that was betwixt 5 and 7 feet high. He opened fire, intimately followed by Roberts-Smith who was to his “right rear”.
Person 11’s mentation of events mostly aligns with that of Roberts-Smith. But the 2 soldiers’ versions of events are not identical. Person 11 said the antheral changeable successful the cornfield was “15 metres away”.
Roberts-Smith, erstwhile helium gave grounds past year, told the court, helium climbed the embankment to face the man, “he was 2 metres away”.
On Wednesday, Owens asked Person 11: “How is it that you could person seen an insurgent done 15 metres of thickly planted harvest that was 5 to 7 feet high?”
“Because I could,” Person 11 replied.
“You couldn’t could you?”
“That’s not true.”
“Because determination was nary 1 there?”
“That’s not true.”
Owens enactment it to Person 11 that “there was nary spotter successful that cornfield” and that helium and Roberts-Smith had “concocted a mendacious story” to screen up the information they had unlawfully killed a ‘PUC’, a ‘person nether a control’.
“That’s not correct, Mr Owens,” Person 11 said. “I person travel present successful bully religion to archer the truth.”
Owens enactment it to Person 11 that the vigor photographed connected the assemblage of the slain antheral was placed adjacent to his corpse aft helium was killed, arsenic a post-facto justification for his killing. Person 11 denied this, saying helium saw the antheral carrying the vigor and assessed him to beryllium a spotter – a guardant scout who relays unit movements to different insurgents.
Owens showed Person 11 pictures of the slain man’s body, whose arms and hands were covered successful blood, but which besides showed a stripe of cleanable tegument connected his wrist wherever determination was nary blood.
“I privation to enactment to you that the precise consecutive enactment connected his wrist wherever determination is nary humor is accordant with the antheral wearing flexicuffs erstwhile helium was bleeding.”
“I disagree with that Mr Owens,” Person 11 said.
Owens said: “I privation to enactment to you clearly: erstwhile you changeable this antheral his hands were handcuffed down his back, correct?”
“That is incorrect,” Person 11 replied.
Person 4, Person 11’s erstwhile friend, has been a cardinal witnesser successful the year-long defamation proceedings brought by Roberts-Smith.
He has fixed captious grounds astir the ngo successful Darwan.
However, Person 4 has besides been accused of participating successful the execution of an unarmed prisoner, besides involving Roberts-Smith, during an earlier SAS cognition successful the colony of Kakarak successful 2009.
The newspapers allege Person 4 was ordered to execute an aged Afghan antheral discovered hiding successful a passageway successful a compound known arsenic Whiskey 108 and who surrendered to Australian troops. Person 4 allegedly obeyed the order. The tribunal has heard Person 4’s patrol commandant gave the bid to termination the unarmed man.
While Person 4 gave grounds astir the Darwan mission, helium objected to answering questions astir Kakarak “on the grounds of self-incrimination”.
Person 11 remains successful the witnesser container earlier Justice Anthony Besanko.