• World - Australia
  • Updated: June 01, 2023

Soldier Found Guilty Of Killing Unarmed Civilians In Afghanistan

Soldier Found Guilty Of Killing Unarmed Civilians In Afghani

Australian soldiers

An Australian court has on Thursday delivered a summary judgment in the defamation case brought by former Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith against three major newspapers.

The court found that Roberts-Smith, who was awarded the prestigious Victoria Cross for his bravery, "probably" killed unarmed civilians during his deployments in Afghanistan, as reported by the newspapers in 2018.

In a statement read out by Judge Anthony Besanko in Sydney, it was determined that the allegations made by the newspapers were established as substantially true on the balance of probabilities, the evidential standard for a civil trial.

The judge specifically highlighted instances where Roberts-Smith was accused of kicking an unarmed and handcuffed Afghan man off a cliff in 2012 and subsequently ordering two soldiers to kill the severely injured man.

The judgement also confirmed the substantial truth of reports that Roberts-Smith had murdered a disabled Afghan man in 2009 and ordered the execution of another man who had taken refuge in a bombed-out facility known as Whiskey 108.

This landmark case, which captivated Australia with its 110 days of hearings, involved the testimony of around 40 witnesses, including serving and former soldiers.

Throughout the trial, Roberts-Smith vehemently denied the allegations, accusing some of the witnesses of jealousy and lying.

However, the court's ruling on Thursday has dealt a severe blow to his reputation, linking his name in the public mind to the acts of murder he was accused of.

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