Ben Robert-Smith’s defamation trial against three newspapers may come to a standstill. due to the COVID-19 outbreak preventing key witnesses from travelling to Sydney to testify.
Robert-Smith is suing three newspapers for defamation, two of which are owned by Nine
Last week Roberts-Smith had to be tested for COVID-19, delaying court proceedings and now the virus is intervening with the case again.
According to News.com.au, the trial may be suspended temporarily as many of the SAS soldiers that are set to testify are from Western Australia. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, they are unable to travel to give their testimonies.
News.com.au also reported Nine’s acting counsel, Nicholas Owens SC, said: “With much regret, quarantine requirements and border closures, I am not in position to call witnesses.”
Video-link is also not an option because of the sensitive information the SAS soldiers may discuss in their testimonies.
The travel ban between Sydney and Western Australia is particularly concerning because it may not end once restrictions are lifted in Sydney. Western Australia is infamous for keeping its borders shut.
This may mean the trial could, potentially, be delayed for months.
According to ABC, the former SAS soldier has spent the last week being cross-examined in court and has denied all allegations he hit his mistress or even had a mistress — claiming he was separated from his wife at the time.
The Financial Review reported, that the 42-year-old also told the court he was subjected to a “whisper campaign,” and continually denied he committed any war crimes.
The judge, Anthony Besanko, will make his decision today on whether or not the case can continue.
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