NZ SAS troopers. (File picture)
A person photographed sporting a Ku Klux Klan outfit, holding a hangman’s noose, and burning a cross at a celebration whereas serving in Afghanistan within the Australian SAS was a former New Zealand SAS trooper, a courtroom has heard.
The pictures gained worldwide consideration when it emerged Australian troopers had used a lifeless man’s prosthetic leg as a consuming vessel at such events.
The ex-trooper, codenamed Individual 35, appeared right now within the Australian Federal Court docket at Sydney in a defamation case introduced by former Australian SAS corporal Ben Roberts-Smith.
Roberts-Smith is a Victoria Cross recipient and his nation’s most adorned residing soldier. He’s suing The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Canberra Occasions over a collection of articles that claimed he dedicated battle crimes in Afghanistan.
Roberts-Smith denies the allegations. His legal professionals have argued that the accusations made towards him by a few of his former comrades are motivated by jealousy and malice. The newspapers are pleading a defence of reality.
Individual 35 was a member of a 2004 NZSAS patrol that was attacked in Afghanistan by insurgents – an occasion that led to New Zealand serviceman Willie Apiata receiving the Victoria Cross for his actions, together with carrying a critically wounded comrade to security.
Individual 35 later joined the Australian SAS and served with Roberts-Smith in Afghanistan in 2009. He instructed the courtroom that he joined the Australian SAS as a result of there have been extra deployment prospects and since the pay and the coaching have been higher. He now works in New Zealand, however has been granted title suppression by the Australian courtroom for nationwide safety causes.
The courtroom has heard that Roberts-Smiths’ employer, billionaire Kerry Stokes, the proprietor of Australia’s Channel Seven Community is paying Individual 35’s authorized bills within the defamation case. Individual 35 is giving proof for Roberts-Smith.
The courtroom has additionally heard that Stokes has been paying for Individual 35’s authorized bills referring to an inquiry by the Inspector Basic of the Australian Defence Pressure (IGADF) into battle crimes allegedly dedicated by Australian forces in Afghanistan.
Individual 35, together with different current and former Australian particular forces troopers, has been questioned beneath oath by the IGADF inquiry. That inquiry discovered proof that 39 Afghan prisoners or civilians had been murdered by, or on the instruction of, Australian particular forces.
The Australian Federal Police is now investigating these battle crimes allegations.
Individual 35 is a key witness within the defamation proceedings as he was current with Robert-Smith and different SAS troopers throughout a raid in 2009 on a compound often known as Whiskey 108. A few of these troopers have given proof that in that mission Roberts-Smith killed an Afghan man and allegedly ordered a junior SAS trooper to execute one other. Robert-Smith denies he made any execution orders and says the person he shot was an armed and bonafide goal.
There was no suggestion that Individual 35 participated in both killing.
The particular person Roberts-Smith is alleged to have killed throughout the raid had a prosthetic leg. It was eliminated by one other SAS trooper and brought again to the Australian SAS base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province and used as a consuming implement throughout events.
It was at considered one of these events the place Individual 35 allegedly wore a Ku Klux Klan outfit and was photographed holding a hangman’s noose and burning a cross. He was recognized by one other particular person in courtroom final week as the person sporting the Ku Klux Klan costume.
The Ku Klux Klan is a white supremacist terrorist group fashioned in America over 150 years in the past. Its members have been recognized for sporting white robes and hoods, burning crosses, and lynching victims.
Former Defence Minister Dr Wayne Mapp mentioned the alleged actions of Individual 35 can be a betrayal of the values taught within the New Zealand Defence Pressure. He mentioned latest media stories had highlighted variations between the New Zealand and Australian particular forces when it comes to the remedy of indigenous individuals.
These stories, by the ABC’s 4 Corners programme, discovered that NZSAS troopers and a New Zealand navy lawyer in East Timor had complained concerning the conduct of their Australian counterparts, together with the desecration of corpses following a hearth struggle and the mistreatment of prisoners.
One NZSAS officer quoted by 4 Corners described the Australian SAS in East Timor as “cowboys”.
Mapp mentioned “It might be very disappointing if a former New Zealand SAS trooper who joined the Australian SAS didn’t uphold the identical excessive requirements which have at all times been maintained by our particular forces”.
CORRECTION: An earlier model of this story incorrectly reported former Defence Minister Dr Wayne Mapp as calling the alleged actions of the Australian SAS a betrayal of the values taught within the New Zealand Defence Pressure. Mapp was referring to the alleged actions of Individual 35. (Amended April 26, 2022, 10.29pm).