“That’s the story,” Ben Roberts-Smith allegedly told his comrades-in-arms after he was accused of catapulting an unarmed Afghan prisoner off a cliff.
A former SAS sergeant code-named Man Four reported to the Federal Court on Monday about a controversial mission during which local resident Ali Jan was allegedly handcuffed and thrown from a “steep slope” in Darwan village of Uruzgan province in September 2012.
The witness said that a man accompanied by a donkey decorated with a traditional red carpet carrying baskets of firewood for cooking was in the area they were clearing.
He said he was searched, handcuffed and placed near a wall where he was tactfully interrogated by Mr Roberts-Smith through an interpreter.
At one point, the “retrieval” of troops was broadcast on the radio, which led to their movement to the designated place, when the Fourth Man turned the corner of the rocky slope and saw another soldier, nicknamed the Man 11.
Man 11 held the same prisoner by the right shoulder and “back to the big landing,” he said.
The fourth man “tried to figure out what was going on” when he noticed that Mr. Roberts-Smith was a few feet away from him.
“He turned around, went forward (and kicked the man in the chest).
“The man was ejected back and fell off the slope.”
A fourth man said he saw the prisoner’s face hit a large rock and receive “serious injury”.
“Your honor, it knocked out several of his teeth, including the front ones.”
Mr Roberts-Smith categorically denies the allegations and has previously testified that the man was a Taliban shot dead in a cornfield.
The 43-year-old war veteran is on trial The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times for libel in connection with reports that he committed war crimes and killings in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012.
A fourth man said he then followed the two soldiers along a “track system” that led to the creek bed, while he was “somewhat shocked”.
“It was something I had never encountered before … a visual effect from the way this person walks sideways.”
As the detachment approached the man, he “tried to sit down and fell again,” and the fourth man said he and another soldier were ordered to drag him to a large tree.
After walking some distance, he turned and saw a prisoner standing in front of the “shot”.
Before being photographed and delivered back to headquarters, Icom radio was affixed to the body.
A scuffle ensued between Mr. Roberts-Smith and a number of commanders before he rejoined three of his comrades-in-arms, the Fourth Man said.
“He came back to our room and said,‘ That’s the story. The story is that we hired a proofreader, ”he said, moving to the mining site.
Later, the Fourth Man noticed a board with a picture depicting a “winged penis pushing a man” off a cliff, he said, adding that the 35th man had a reputation for cartoons with a winged penis.
Mr Roberts Smith, one of several Australian laureates of the Victoria Cross since 1970, suggested claims of the death penalty and others from jealous allies to his medals.
The trial continues.
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