Retired SAS soldier contradicts war crime allegations at Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial.
Posted On April 19, 2022
For the first time in Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial a soldier has given evidence in support of the Victoria Cross recipient.
A retired member of the Special Air Service Regiment, known as Person 5, took to the stand today and contradicted allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan.
The first witness in Mr Roberts-Smith’s camp is one of his good friends – a former soldier who joined the British Marines before transferring to the SAS in 2002.
He was patrol commander of Afghanistan in 2009 and hand-picked Mr Roberts-Smith to be his second in charge.
Central to the defamation trial is a raid on the Whiskey 108 compound, in which weapons and a hidden tunnel were discovered.
Today, Person 5 testified it was searched and cleared, contradicting allegations reported by Nine Newspapers that two Afghans surrendered from the hole, including a man with a prosthetic leg who was allegedly executed by Mr Roberts-Smith.
It’s alleged the second detainee was shot dead by a junior trooper at the instructions of Person 5, who comrades claimed wanted to “blood the rookie” – a term for new members getting their first kill in battle.
Asked whether he’d ever used the term or made those orders, the witness replied “never”.
In a surprising move, the barrister for Nine Newspapers called for some of Person 5’s evidence to be thrown out because it raised a new version of events that the publisher’s witnesses weren’t quizzed on.
The judge will consider it, but in the meantime the former soldier will be back tomorrow.