Four photos, four men, one dead: a former teammate of Ben Roberts-Smith has been criticized for a “missing” prisoner.
Afghan prisoner 1, 3 and 4 was interrogated and photographed after being pulled out of a ute carrying IED components – now a SAS soldier has denied claims that a photograph of a dead man shows that missing prisoner 2 was executed by Ben Roberts-Smith.
Ben Roberts-Smith sued Nine Newspapers for a series of articles claiming he participated in the unlawful executions of Afghan prisoners while siding with the SAS.
The Victoria Cross recipient firmly denies the claims and called an SAS soldier, known as Persona 11, to testify on their missions in Afghanistan.
Person 11 has been repeatedly accused by Nine’s lawyer of lying to protect her close friend, Mr. Roberts-Smith, because they are both accused of conducting or covering up war crimes murders together.
The former SAS soldier denies the allegations and said the truth will erase their names.
In late 2012, the court heard that Mr. Roberts-Smith’s SAS patrol stopped a Toyota HiLux near the town of Fasil.
Nine claim that the SAS discovered IED components in the HiLux and arrested the occupants of the ute before Persona 11 and Mr. Roberts-Smith took them away for questioning at a nearby complex.
Nine’s attorney, Nicholas Owens SC, showed Persona 11 three sets of photographs purporting to show Afghan inmates, known as PUC, who had been captured in Fasil.
The court heard that the men had been photographed with labels bearing “GB”, the patrol initials of their kidnappers SAS Gothic Bravo and a number.
Person 11 agreed that the prisoners photographed at the Australian Tarin Kowt base were labeled as GB1, GB3 and GB4.
There were no photographs of the GB2 prisoner, Nine’s lawyer said.
“The reason there is no photograph of the second Gothic Bravo PUC is that it was murdered by Mr. Roberts-Smith on the whole,” said Mr. Owens.
“I don’t agree with that,” Person 11 replied.
Mr. Owens showed Person 11 a photograph of another untagged man, shot dead on the ground, and suggested it was the fate of prisoner GB2.
“Is it correct that the fourth PUC I gave you, in addition to the ones I showed you, is the one that died in the image I showed you a moment ago?” Mr. Owens asked.
“I reject him, Mr. Owens,” Person 11 replied.
Mr. Roberts-Smith’s legal team has another explanation for GB2 not being photographed in Tarin Kowt after the mission: he was released unharmed in Fasil.
Person 11 claimed that he did not recognize any of the PUCs in the images and have no memory of being in charge of managing the prisoners in Fasil.
The SAS soldier who claimed to have arrested the men in Fasil, Person 16, told the court that Mr. Roberts-Smith later bragged about killing one of the prisoners, a teenager.
Person 16 told the court that the young Afghan was “shaking like a leaf” after being arrested on the side of the road and taken away by Mr. Roberts-Smith.
Person 16 said he then asked Mr. Roberts-Smith what happened to the frightened teenager.
“I shot that shit in the head,” says person 16 that Mr. Roberts-Smith replied.
“(I) blew his brains out, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Mr. Roberts-Smith totally denies killing any inmate and his lawyers say the quotes falsely attributed to him are the words of an “ostentatious psychopath” similar to a line from the movie Apocalypse Now.
Person 11, on Thursday, denied having witnessed the order for another execution by Mr. Roberts-Smith just a few weeks earlier, in 2012.
Nine statements Person 11 stood behind Mr. Roberts-Smith while questioning an Afghan detained in Chernatu village.
Another SAS soldier told a court that he kicked a wall that removed a nearby weapons depot, and when Mr. Roberts-Smith saw what had happened, he ordered an Afghan commander to kill the inmate. .
Person 11 denied witnessing any interrogation, hiding or execution in Chernatu.
There was nothing about the mission that remained in his mind, he said, aside from a military working dog who was injured earlier in the day.
The process continues.
Originally published as SAS comrade of Ben Roberts-Smith asked if photo of dead man revealed murder of Afghan prisoner