A Special Air Services Regiment (SAS) soldier and squadmate of Ben Roberts-Smith has told a Sydney court he allegedly witnessed The Victoria Cross recipient order another soldier to shoot dead an Afghan man during a 2009 mission.
Roberts-Smith’s defamation case against Nine newspapers resumed in the Sydney Federal Court on February 2. Nine has stood by its reporting which claims Roberts-Smith committed unlawful killings during various missions, while Roberts-Smith claims he was falsely accused of war crimes by the media organisation.
Lawyers for Nine Entertainment opened the case by calling an unnamed SAS soldier identified under the alias of Person 41.
Person 41 told the court one of his four overseas deployments to Afghanistan included a 2009 mission where several patrols conducted a raid on a Taliban compound codenamed ‘Whiskey 108’.
Person 41 told the court he walked into a courtyard to find Roberts-Smith and another soldier, identified as Person 4, standing near an older Afghan male.
The witness said Person 4 asked to borrow his gun’s suppressor.
“I thought it was a strange request but I complied … thinking he must need it because he’s going to go into the tunnel,” Person 41 told the Federal Court in comments published by 7 News.
Person Four allegedly fitted the suppressor to his gun and walked with Roberts-Smith back towards the Afghan man. He said Roberts-Smith allegedly grabbed the Afghan man by the shirt and picked him up before kicking him.
Allegedly, Roberts-Smith then pointed to the Afghan man and ordered Person 4 to “shoot him”.
Person 41 said he “didn’t wish to witness what was about to happen” and stepped into another room. He heard a single gunshot and upon returning to the courtyard he saw the body of the Afghan man with a head wound.
The defamation trial resumed in Sydney after a six-month hiatus caused by lockdowns in New South Wales and border closures in Western Australia.
More to come as the trial continues.
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