The defamation proceedings between Australian soldier Ben Roberts-Smith and Nine newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age took another turn yesterday.
Roberts-Smith is currently suing the two mastheads over reports which accused the Victoria Cross recipient of committing murder on overseas deployments and covering up the crimes.
Roberts-Smith vehemently denies the accusations and is suing for defamation based on his portrayal as a war criminal.
A Federal Court trial over the matter that was due to start this month has been adjourned amid the coronavirus outbreak.
However, on Tuesday the court heard the two paper – both now owned by Nine – have lodged new allegations against Roberts-Smith.
The paper’s lawyers are now alleging Roberts-Smith was involved in two more unlawful deaths in Afghanistan in 2012, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Nine Entertainment, propose to call four Afghan witnesses to give evidence about the alleged execution of another unarmed prisoner named Ali Jan
Roberts-Smith’s barrister Bruce McClintock SC said: “Fairfax have led no evidence about the source of the information now relied on — this is stark in relation to Sola,” according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.
McClintock has also taken issue with the accuracy of the accusations.
“And there’s no specification as to who actually pulled the trigger,” McClintock said.
“They accuse my client of murder, and they have to do it with the precision of (a criminal) indictment.”
McClintock also suggested the new allegations have only now emerged due to the paper’s “major errors” in prior reporting, according to The Australian.
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