The Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial has proven to have no shortage of witnesses, with 21 SAS soldiers set to testify against the soldier-turned-media-executive in court.
The defamation case is set to have at least 60 witnesses over the course of two months, including ex-girlfriends, current girlfriends and ex-wives according to News.com.au
The witness list in itself is salacious – the stuff of soap operas – but the number of SAS soldiers set to testify is particularly interesting.
ABC News reported that Roberts-Smith’s legal representation is dismissing the allegations against him as a case of ‘tall poppy syndrome’, claiming that the soldiers are jealous of the Victoria Cross medal recipient and just want to tear down the war hero – all 21 of them.
Roberts-Smith said in court last week that being the recipient of the Victoria Cross “put a target on my back”, according to The Guardian.
Interestingly, the other living recipients of the Victoria Cross in Australia have not dealt with allegations like Roberts-Smith has.
According to ABC News, the barrister for Nine, Nicholas Owen SC, disagrees with accusations that the SAS soldiers are jealous and described the soldiers that are set to testify as “honourable men who could remain silent no longer”.
Owens explained that the accounts SAS soldiers have told are so vastly different to Roberts-Smith’s own version of events that both simply cannot be true.
“Many of the 21 military witnesses had never spoken with one another about what they saw on deployments,” he said.
No matter what side you believe, it’s safe to say Roberts-Smith has certainly left an impression on his former fellow SAS soldiers.
For a full breakdown of the events leading up to the defamation trial, click here.
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