Trial witness Ben Roberts-Smith denies lying about ‘distinctive’ camouflage paint in court

A former elite soldier has denied lying in court about the ‘distinctive’ camouflage paint worn by Ben Roberts-Smith’s patrol on the day the war veteran was accused of executing an unarmed Afghan .

Mr Roberts-Smith denies the allegation and also dismissed accusations of other unlawful killings, intimidation and domestic violence published in newspapers in 2018.

The Victoria Cross recipient is suing The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times for defamation in Federal Court, which is currently hearing witnesses called by Mr Roberts-Smith’s legal team.

The former patrol commander of Mr Roberts-Smith’s Special Air Service Regiment (SAS), codenamed Person 5, yesterday recalled wearing brown, green and black paint, “like 99% of all camouflage paints”.

A former witness for publisher Nine Entertainment, Person 14, told the court that during a 2009 mission to a Taliban compound dubbed Whiskey 108, he saw an Australian soldier shoot what appeared to be a human body.

Although Person 14 could not identify the soldier, he said the gray and brown camouflage paint made it easier to identify Person 5 as a member of the patrol, which included Mr Roberts-Smith.

Nine’s lawyer, Nicholas Owens SC, questioned the witness whether he had lied in court.(PA: Joel Carrett)

Nine’s attorney, Nicholas Owens SC, pointed out that Person 5 mentioned gray as a paint color for the first time today.

Mr Owens told the witness that he ‘realized you were about to be caught lying’.

“No, that’s not correct,” Person 5 replied.

When asked if he agreed that Mr Roberts-Smith’s paintwork included “a distinctive light grey”, Person 5 told the court that he did not recall it and “it’ was 13 years ago”.

The witness was shown a photograph of Mr. Roberts-Smith on the day of the mission showing the painting.

According to Nine’s defense documents, Person 5 allegedly ordered a fellow “rookie”, Person 4, to execute another Afghan in the compound in order to “bleed” the soldier, but Person 5 denied giving such an order to anyone.

Another witness, Person 41, gave a slightly different account and told the court that Person 4 asked to borrow his gun’s suppressor after being ordered by Mr Roberts-Smith to execute the Afghan .

This witness stated that he entered another area, heard a gunshot and returned to see the man’s body.

During cross-examination, Person 5 agreed that he had a procedure that all of his soldiers had to wear suppressors, even if they were not to be used during the day.

Mr Owens told Person 5 that it was ‘far from unlikely’ that if a person intended to fire only one shot they would borrow a suppressor already fitted to the weapon from another soldier instead of finding his in his bag.

“I don’t agree with that,” the witness said.

Mr Owens suggested that while it might seem “implausible” that Person 4 would need to borrow a suppressor, the logs case is less likely to succeed.

“He wouldn’t have had to borrow a suppressor,” Person 5 said.

While on the witness stand, Person 4 objected to answering a question about what happened at Whiskey 108, sparking a legal debate that culminated in Judge Anthony Besanko’s decision not to answer him. ask to testify.

Person 5 has denied Mr Owens’ repeated suggestions that he colluded with Mr Roberts-Smith to “clear his story” about Whiskey 108.

He insisted they remain friends and the frequency of their contact has not changed due to Mr Roberts-Smith’s two interviews for an Australian Defense Force Inspector General inquiry.

The witness further denied colluding with three other witnesses who are all scheduled to appear for Mr. Roberts-Smith – Person 29, Person 35 and Person 38 – in the weeks before their evidence was presented in the trial. defamation case.

Person 5 said it was “not surprising” that he spoke to the men because they were friends and denied discussing the evidence they planned to give.

“Are you saying that because there’s a lawsuit you can’t talk to your friends anymore?” Person 5 responded at some point.

The trial continues.

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