Ben Roberts-Smith rejects Afghanistan murder allegations and ‘gossip’ detailed in court document
The Fairfax defence document outlines new details of alleged incidents involving Mr Roberts-Smith. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)
Australia’s most decorated soldier is accused of carrying out numerous unlawful killings and assaults, according to documents lodged in the Federal Court.
Warning: This story contains graphic content.
The material, which is being used in a defamation defence by Fairfax Media, claims Ben Roberts-Smith murdered or was complicit in the murder of six Afghan males, including by shooting one at such close range the man’s brain matter splattered in his mouth.
Mr Roberts-Smith is suing Fairfax Media over a serious of articles which he believes were defamatory because they implied he had “broken the moral and legal rules of military engagement” during the Afghanistan war and was “therefore a criminal”.
The Victoria Cross winner has strenuously denied the “false allegations” contained in the new Fairfax defence document, which he said have “compounded” the defamation of him and are “completely without any foundation in truth”.
“The document makes even more hurtful and untrue allegations against me that Fairfax Media clearly hope will be reported by other media without question,” the former elite soldier said.
“So spurious a document is it that it gives different, and even more damaging, versions of purported events at variance from the stories that Fairfax originally published.”
The defence document outlines new details of alleged incidents involving Mr Roberts-Smith including claims he went in search of a “squirter” and found an Afghan male before he “shot him in the head from close range”.
According to the document Mr Roberts-Smith took a handcuffed Afghan man called Ali Jan, placed him at the edge of a small cliff, then kicked him so he fell off.
“The impact of the fall to the dry creek below was so significant that it knocked Ali Jan’s teeth out of his mouth,” the defence document states.
Mr Roberts-Smith then allegedly directed a soldier under his command to kill Ali Jan, which he did.
In a separate incident detailed in the document, Mr Roberts-Smith is accused of the shooting murder of an Afghan male with a prosthetic leg despite him posing “no imminent threat”.
Mr Roberts-Smith takes part in the ANZAC Day march through the Sydney CBD in 2011. (Tracey Nearmy: AAP)
The document also outlines five assault allegations which took place in Afghanistan, three involving unarmed Afghan men and two involving colleagues, as well as an allegation of domestic violence in Canberra against an unnamed woman with whom he was having an affair.
According to the Fairfax material the former elite soldier punched the woman in the eye after an event at Parliament House where she became intoxicated, because he feared she may have exposed their relationship.
In its defence filed in the Federal Court, Fairfax Media asserts it did not defame the special forces veteran and argues that he cannot be identified in some of the articles.
In his statement Mr Roberts-Smith said he had asked his lawyers to seek the permission of the Federal Court, if necessary, to provide Fairfax’s defence document to the Australian Federal Police “who are examining my complaint that Fairfax Media employees appear to have either unlawfully obtained material or persons have unlawfully provided material to them”.