Australian soldier won’t apologise for alleged war crimes

Australia’s most decorated living soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has refused to apologise for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

In his first public remarks since a judge ruled that the claims that he committed war crimes were “substantially true”, Mr Roberts-Smith said: “It was a terrible result and obviously the incorrect result. We will look at it and consider whether or not we need to file an appeal.”

The 44-year-old was quoted as saying by Australia’s Channel Nine: “There is not much more I can say about it… we just have to work through it and I’ll take the advice as it comes.”

Earlier this month, a federal judge concluded that Mr Roberts-Smith unlawfully killed prisoners and committed other war crimes in Afghanistan in a landmark defamation case. The ruling dismissed his claims that he was defamed by media reports about his war service.

He lost the case against The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times.

The judge found allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith murdered or was complicit in the killing of four unarmed Afghans while deployed overseas were “substantially true”.

Mr Roberts-Smith has now refused to apologise for the war crimes: “We haven’t done anything wrong, so we won’t be making any apologies.” He insisted that he was proud of his service in Afghanistan.

He returned to Perth, Australia, from New Zealand for the first time since the defamation case judgement was delivered by judge Anthony Besanko earlier this month.

It was also reported that a day after the defamation case ruling, Mr Roberts-Smith resigned from Seven West Media where he was appointed general manager of Seven Queensland in 2015. Chairman of Seven, Kerry Stokes, financed Mr Roberts-Smith’s legal costs in the trial.

Mr Stokes has been publicly defending Mr Roberts-Smith since the trial. Last year, he said: “Ben Roberts-Smith is innocent and deserves legal representation and that scumbag journalists should be held to account. And quote me on that.”

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