Afghanistan: People react to news of Australian soldier losing defamation case

One of Australia’s most decorated living soldiers on Thursday lost a defamation lawsuit against three newspapers that accused him of involvement in the unlawful killings of six Afghans during his deployment to Afghanistan.

The newspapers successfully established that their reports were true in relation to most of the defamatory imputations that the soldier complained about, said Federal Court judge Anthony Besanko in Sydney, ending a case that put the secretive wartime conduct of elite SAS troops on rare public display.

“This (Australian soldier) should be executed in the same place where he martyred innocent Afghan civilians,” said Haji Badar, a resident of the west of Afghanistan.

“According to my point of view he (the Australian soldier) has to be chopped into pieces, he should be burned. According to the law of Islam, such people should be executed so that no one will do such an ugly act in the future,” a resident of the west of the country.

Former special forces corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, 44, had sued the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Canberra Times for portraying him as someone who “broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement” in Afghanistan where he served from 2006 to 2012.

In response to the decision, the Taliban, which now rules Afghanistan after fighting international troops for 20 years, said foreign forces had committed “uncountable crimes” during the war.

Bilal Karimi, a spokesperson for the Taliban administration, said the incidents involved in the Australian case were a “small part” of the many alleged crimes that took place, adding that they did not trust any court globally to follow them up.