Australia’s soldier appeals defamation ruling in Afghanistan murder case

Australia’s highly decorated war veteran, former SAS corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, has filed an appeal against a civil court defamation ruling that implicated him in the murder of four Afghan civilians during his service in Afghanistan. Court records indicate that Roberts-Smith lodged the appeal on Tuesday, Reuters reported

Roberts-Smith, who received the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest military honor, for his actions in Afghanistan, had sued three Nine Entertainment newspapers and their journalists over articles accusing him of killing unarmed Afghan civilians outside the bounds of warfare regulations.

However, a Federal Court judge ruled on June 1 that the newspapers had substantiated most of their claims, leading to the unfavorable judgment for Roberts-Smith.

The court’s website confirmed that Roberts-Smith submitted the appeal on July 11, although no additional details were provided, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters’ report, Roberts-Smith’s lawyer did not respond to a comment about the matter.

James Chessell, Nine’s managing director of publishing, stated that the company would contest the appeal. Chessell affirmed, “We believe the Federal Court’s judgment is comprehensive and categorical,” underscoring their commitment to journalism that serves the public interest.

Roberts-Smith, who was not present during the June 1 ruling, expressed his disagreement with the outcome in an interview with Nine’s television arm on June 15. He stated, “It’s a terrible outcome and it’s the incorrect outcome,” indicating his intention to assess the judgment and consider the possibility of filing an appeal.