Ben Roberts-Smith's defamation case begins

08 Juin, 2021, 02:07 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Ben Roberts Smith arrives at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney for the start of his defamation trial

Earlier, Mr McClintock said Mr Roberts-Smith was a courageous, highly organised and disciplined leader who risked his life in battle in Afghanistan in line with the SAS motto of "Who Dares Wins".

Mr McClintock said Australia prided itself on its military and came together each Anzac Day to pay tribute, but many were unwilling to confront the reality that war was incredibly violent. Campbell said the soldiers would then plant weapons and radios to support false claims that the prisoners were enemies killed in action.

"We are very proud of him for the father and son that he is".

"The simple fact is that some who've reported on matters concerning my client have forgotten that fact, the violence of war, in the rush to tear him down", he said.

Ben Roberts-Smith left the army in 2013 and is now the general manager of the Seven Network, a media company, in Brisbane and regional Queensland.

McClintock read from Roberts-Smith's official citation for his Victoria Cross which commended him for "selfless valor" during an intense firefight in Kandahar province in 2010 while "showing total disregard for his own safety".

"It's something that would be said by an ostentatious psychopath".

Roberts-Smith was also awarded a Medal for Gallantry for his actions as a scout and sniper while under heavy fire from a much larger enemy force in 2006. He was also accused of killing an unarmed Afghan shepherd by kicking him off a cliff and ordering his fellow soldiers to shoot him.

Mr McClintock said the alleged execution of Ali Jan Bakir had been the "centrepiece" of Nine's sprawling allegations against his client and it was entirely false.

He said the man was a member of anti-coalition militia, armed with a rifle, and it wasn't rare for Taliban insurgents with a disability to fight on the battlefield.

The court has previously heard that Nine withdrew an allegation that, on the same mission, Mr Roberts-Smith had swum across the Helmand River and unlawfully killed an unarmed Afghan male.

Nine withdrew the allegation it was unlawful just one month before the trial without an apology, Mr McClintock said.

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Nine newspapers published a story claiming Mr Roberts-Smith argued with the woman after the function and was angry with her out of fear she had exposed their affair.

He also said the woman had showed up at Mr Roberts-Smith's family home and told the soldier's wife she had sustained the injury falling down the stairs.

Mr McClintock said other soldiers had been "enormously jealous" about the honours awarded to Mr Roberts-Smith - which include the Victoria Cross - and had sought revenge with claims he "broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement".

He was a soldier who "deservedly had a high reputation of courage, skill and decency".

More than 60 witnesses are expected to give evidence during the lengthy battle between Ben Roberts-Smith and Nine.

"He doesn't know whether he actually hit the spotter but he may have", Mr McClintock said.

Mr McClintock said that was "improbable".

Mr McClintock described as "ridiculous" claims Mr Roberts-Smith said of the alleged incident "it was the most lovely thing I've ever seen".

He added that during the trial his client will deny all claims of bullying other soldiers and that an insurgent killed was under 14-years-old.

Following Mr McClintock's opening address, which will likely run until the end of Tuesday, it is expected the court will hear from Mr Roberts-Smith as the first witness.

Mr Roberts-Smith, his lawyers say, saw Person 10 had been shooting toward a woman and child.

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