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SAS witness denied making up allegations

A former special forces soldier who says war hero Ben Roberts-Smith punched him in the face and staged a mock execution of a fake Afghan prisoner has denied inventing the allegations in court.

The man – codenamed Person 10 – was on Thursday called to give evidence in defamation proceedings launched by Mr Roberts-Smith over media reports that he committed war crimes and bullied colleagues.

He told the Federal Court about a confrontation with Mr Roberts-Smith after a 2012 mission during which he had mistakenly firing in the direction of a woman and child.

In front of colleagues back at the base, Mr Roberts-Smith ordered Person 10 to stand up, punched him in the jaw and then began verbally abusing him.

“It forced me back … it rattled me. I … did not expect to be punched,” he said.

Months later, Person 10 said he received a phone call from Mr Roberts-Smith warning he would “f*** you up” if he disclosed the punch.

But Mr Roberts-Smith’s barrister, Arthur Moses, suggested he was punched after giggling when the war hero questioned him about the incident.

“That did not happen,” Person 10 replied.

He had “panicked” and begun “spraying bullets”, risking the lives of his comrades and the two Afghans, Mr Moses said.

Person 10 earlier told the court Mr Roberts-Smith also ordered him to mock execute a colleague pretending to be an Afghan prisoner – bound and on his knees – at a pre-deployment training exercise.

Mr Moses suggested he had lied about his evidence because he was embarrassed about his performance in the defence force, and blamed Mr Roberts-Smith for the demise of his career.

But Person 10 – who was removed from the SAS and eventually medically discharged from the defence force – said he owned up to his mistakes and poor performance, saying it was “nobody else’s fault but mine”.

“I hold nothing against Mr Roberts-Smith,” he said.

Person 10 will continue his evidence on Friday.

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