A new SAS witness will testify at Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial, alleging the war hero punched him in the face and bullied him.
The elite soldier codenamed Person 10 is due to begin his testimony in the Federal Court on Thursday about a number of alleged incidents in 2012 in Australia and Afghanistan.
Mr Roberts-Smith is accused of orchestrating a mock execution at a pre-deployment training in Perth by ordering the young soldier to “kill” a fake Afghan prisoner.
The Victoria Cross recipient was the fresh trooper’s patrol commander on his first deployment in Afghanistan and planned what is described as a failed mission, according to court documents.
After returning, Mr Roberts-Smith allegedly ordered Person 10 to stand in front of his patrol where he was belittled, punched in the face, and verbally abused.
Mr Roberts-Smith then allegedly said words to the effect: “Not a word of this is to leave the room.”
The war hero has denied all accusations of bullying.
The 43-year-old is suing The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times for defamation over reports claiming he committed war crimes and murders in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012.
The news outlets have called a number of SAS soldiers as witnesses – retired and serving – seeking to rely on a defence of truth.
Person 10’s evidence follows another SAS soldier who refused to speak about an alleged war crime he perpetrated under orders by Mr Roberts-Smith.
The witness, dubbed Person 66, was not required by Justice Anthony Besanko to give evidence about a 2012 mission in the Syahchow region where he allegedly executed a prisoner.
His barrister objected to his client answering questions about the incident saying it could lead to “self-incrimination of the gravest kind”.
Justice Besanko declined to order Person 66 to speak and he was soon let go from the witness box after further objecting to two more questions by Nicholas Owens SC on behalf of the newspapers.
The questions pertained to whether Person 66 shot a person under control (PUC) and whether Mr Roberts-Smith directed him to do so.
The trial continues.