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Second SAS soldier claims captured one-legged Afghan shot by Australian soldier

A second SAS soldier has told a court he watched a captured Afghan thrown to the ground and killed with a burst of machine gun fire – and claimed the man later spotted carrying the weapon was decorated soldier Ben Roberts-Smith.

The SAS soldier, known only as Person 14, is the second member of the elite unit to testify against the Victoria Cross recipient in the defamation trial of the century in the Federal Court.

Mr Roberts-Smith has denied allegations by Nine newspapers that he either killed or was involved in the murders of six unarmed, captured Afghans during various missions while deployed.

He is suing the newspapers saying they falsely portrayed him as a war criminal and Nine, this week, has begun calling witnesses it says support the allegations.

Person 14 told the court he was the first soldier to advance on a series of suspected Taliban compounds known as Whiskey 108 and Whiskey 109 in April 2009.

He recounted trudging through water, over rickety bridges and through poppy fields under grey skies toward Whiskey 108 when “fighting age male” Afghans appeared.

The first Afghan male did not spot Person 14’s SAS troupe and disappeared into the poppy fields – the second was not so fortunate and Person 14 shot him twice.

A bomb was dropped on the roof of Whiskey 108 before SAS assault teams stormed in to clear out the remaining combatants, the court has heard.

Person 14 said the last light was fading when he heard heavy footsteps stomping to his right.

NCA NewsWire Photos
Camera IconSAS photographs of the raid on Whiskey 108. Federal Court Credit: Supplied

“As I turned my head to my right, there were three Australian soldiers and a black object, which was similar to a human, that was thrown to the ground,” Person 14 told the court on Friday.

Person 14 said the person thudded as they hit the ground and they made an “expulsion of air” noise that sounded as though they were winded.

“Then a soldier raised their Minimi F89 Para and fired an extended burst,” Person 14 said, naming the “distinctive” machine gun carried by only some SAS troops.

“It was loud like BRRRRRT for one second.”

“I was like okay, and that person turned and walked away out of sight back into Whiskey 108.”

Person 14 told the court he couldn’t tell who had just unloaded the machine gun into the Afghan as everyone was wet, in military uniform and with painted faces.

But, he told the court, he recognised the distinctive camouflage face paint of one particular SAS patrol.

“Later I saw who had the Para Minimi (machine gun),” Person 14 told the court.

“It was Ben Roberts-Smith.”

Court - Ben Roberts-Smith
Camera IconBen Roberts-Smith arrives in court on Friday. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

Person 14 said he had put on his night vision goggles and looked down at the Afghan – he was older with short hair, gunshot wounds in the centre of his body and with perhaps blood coming out his mouth and nose.

The dead man also had a prosthetic leg, Person 14 said.

Person 14 has become the second SAS witness in as many days to accuse Mr Roberts-Smith of machine gunning that Afghan outside Whiskey 108 in similar terms.

Person 41, on Thursday, doubled down on his accusations that Mr Roberts-Smith pushed the man onto the ground, flipped him onto his stomach and fired the Minmi machine gun into his back.

Mr Roberts-Smith has strenuously and repeatedly denied that is how the Afghan died – the SAS veteran says he shot and killed the man who was hurrying outside the compound armed with a rifle.

Mr Roberts-Smith has told the court every single person he killed in Afghanistan was shot within the lawful rules of engagement.

His lawyers questioned Person 41 and accused him of lying and being unable to distinguish fact from fiction in his account of the Afghan killing.

Both Person 14 and Person 41 have given evidence in the defamation trial after Justice Anthony Besanko issued them “immunity” certificates that prevent the evidence being used to prosecute them in Australian courts.

Person 14’s lawyer, on Friday, said his client objected to giving evidence on the shooting because it could implicate him as an accessory to murder.

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