Ben Roberts-Smith, a decorated Australian soldier and former Special Air Service Regiment soldier, was accused of executing an unarmed Afghan civilian. Supposedly, on that same day, Roberts-Smith killed a Taliban soldier armed with an AK-47 and detonators. Over a series of articles from 2018, Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers that defamed him, portraying him as a murder and someone who ‘broke moral and legal rules of military engagement. The Victorian Cross recipient denies the events that he is accused of: kicking an unarmed Afghan off a cliff and ordering a junior soldier to kill him. Outlining his own version of the events of September 11, 2009, Roberts-Smith claims that he was in an operation to hunt down a rogue Afghan soldier called Hekmatullah. This Afghan soldier had previously killed three Australians in a ‘surprise attack.’ Roberts-Smith and ‘Person 11,’ his second in command, saw Hekmatullah across the river. Roberts-Smith swam across the river with only his weapon and medical kit and killed him. Hekmatullah was armed with an AK-47, as well as with a foreign-made detonator. Roberts-Smith photographed the body and took the weapons with him. While being accused of killing an unarmed man, Roberts-Smith displays the AK-47 and detonators, proving that the ‘unarmed man’ was obviously not unarmed, but armed. This story has been corroborated by Person 11.
The newspapers that are being sued for defamation are The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and The Age. Journalists, Chris Masters, David Wroe and Nick McKenzie are being pursued for defamation by Roberts-Smith too. The trial is set for June 2020 and will be for 6 weeks.