SYDNEY: Australia’s most decorated soldier was “complicit in and responsible for the murder” of three Afghan men on deployment, a judge said, elaborating on his finding against the former SAS special forces corporal in a blockbuster defamation trial, reported Australian media.
Ben Roberts-Smith, holder of the Victoria Cross and other top military honours, was also “not an honest and reliable witness in … many areas” and a bully toward other Australian soldiers, Federal Court Judge Anthony Besanko said in his full judgement released on Monday.
Besanko on Thursday threw out Roberts-Smith’s defamation case against three Australian newspapers which had accused him of unlawful killings in Afghanistan. Besanko said the media outlets had proven substantial truth in their reporting, ending a case which lifted the veil of secrecy over the elite SAS.
Australia has continued to push China for more transparency on its military expansion, saying that China needed to offer a “strategic explanation”.
At the final plenary of the Shangri-La Dialogue defence summit in Singapore on Sunday, Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles said China could look to Australia’s communication approach with its nuclear-powered submarine programme as the standard or model of “military transparency”.
On Saturday, Marles made similar comments that projected the Aukus security alliance as a transparent initiative and took aim at China for its military secrecy.