Top Australian soldier loses war crimes defamation case

Australia’s most-decorated living soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has lost a historic defamation case against three newspapers that accused him of war crimes in Afghanistan.

The outlets were sued over articles alleging he killed unarmed prisoners.

The civil trial was the first time a court has assessed accusations of war crimes by Australian forces.

A judge said four of the six murder allegations – all denied by the soldier – were substantially true. Justice Anthony Besanko found the newspaper had not proven two other murder allegations; nor reports Mr Roberts-Smith had assaulted a woman with whom he was having an affair; nor a threat against a junior colleague.

But additional allegations that he had unlawfully assaulted captives and bullied peers were found to be true. Mr Roberts-Smith, who left the defence force in 2013, has not been charged over any of the claims in a criminal court, where there is a higher burden of proof. The 44-year-old was not present for Thursday’s judgement.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here