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Ben Roberts-Smith: Landmark defamation case ends in favor of Australian soldier

Australian Soldier Ben Roberts-Smith Loses Defamation Case Involving War Crimes Accusations

Decorated Australian soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has suffered a significant loss in a groundbreaking defamation case against three newspapers. The case revolved around allegations of war crimes committed by Roberts-Smith during his service in Afghanistan. The articles in question accused him of killing unarmed prisoners or civilians.

This civil trial marked the first instance in Australian history where a court examined claims of war crimes by the country’s forces. After careful consideration, Justice Anthony Besanko ruled that the claims made against Roberts-Smith, though denied by him, were largely accurate.

While the newspapers failed to substantiate allegations of Roberts-Smith assaulting a woman with whom he was having an affair or coercing a junior colleague into falsifying field reports, it was determined that he had engaged in bullying behavior, which was found to be true.

It is important to note that Roberts-Smith has not faced any criminal charges related to these accusations, and no official verdict has been reached against him in a criminal court. Notably, he was absent during the announcement of the judgment.

In 2011, Roberts-Smith, now 44 years old, was awarded the prestigious Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest military honor, for his solo efforts in overpowering Taliban machine gunners who were attacking his platoon.

However, his public image was significantly tarnished in 2018 when journalists Nick McKenzie, Chris Masters, and David Wroe published articles in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Canberra Times highlighting alleged misconduct by Roberts-Smith.

According to the newspapers, Roberts-Smith, an elite Special Air Service (SAS) soldier, was implicated in six murders of unarmed prisoners during his deployments in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012.

The judge’s ruling concluded that four of the murder allegations were largely accurate, although there was insufficient evidence to support the remaining two claims.

John Collins
John Collins
John is an esteemed journalist and author renowned for their incisive reporting and deep insights into global affairs. As a prominent contributor to City Telegraph, John brings over 5 years of experience covering diverse geopolitical landscapes, from the corridors of power in major capitals to the frontlines of conflict zones.

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