The former Australian SAS soldier is suing three newspapers who have accused him of various atrocities during his tour of duty. Whether the allegations are true or not, what has become clear is the conflict was a huge mistake.
The sensational Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial resumed in Sydney this week, after a month- long delay caused by a serious Covid-19 outbreak that forced the city, together with large parts of Australia, into lock down.
During the break the last contingent of Australian troops was withdrawn from Afghanistan – thereby ending Australia’s misguided involvement in a war foolishly initiated by the United States of America two decades ago.
Predictably, most media organizations in Australia have criticized the troop withdrawal and the current reappearance of the Taliban – notwithstanding that America’s defeat and the re-emergence of the Taliban were inevitable.
In its own way, the Roberts-Smith trial has highlighted the pointlessness and horror of the West’s ill-fated military intrusion into Afghanistan.
The evidence given this week by three Afghan eyewitnesses will be crucial to the outcome of the case – the much-decorated war hero will find it difficult to win his action if the testimony of these witnesses is believed by the trial judge.
The first witness, Mohammed Hanifa Fatih, an Afghan farmer, told the court that he and his family had come under fire from Australian SAS troops when they invaded the small village of Darwan in September 2012.
The soldiers said to be looking for a Taliban operative who had recently defeated three Australian soldiers.
The second witness, Man Gul, another Afghan farmer, also gave evidence about what occurred during the Darwan village raid.
He told the court that he was detained by Australian troops when they entered the village, was hit with a pistol while he was being interrogated and assaulted by “The Big Soldier.”
Gul testified that he saw Hanifa and Ali Jan being taken away by soldiers and then heard gunshots. He said that Ali Jan was definitely not a member of the Taliban. Gul told the court that he believed that Australian soldiers had killed innocent people and martyred them all.
The third witness, Shahzad Aka, another Darwan farmer, told the court that he was in the village when Australian SAS troops arrived by helicopter in September 2012.
He testified that Hanifa and Ali Jan were handcuffed by the soldiers, and that he saw “the big soldier” kick Ali Jan into a riverbed. He then heard gunshots. Aka was shown a photograph of a body and identified it as that of Ali Jan.
It is all very well for Roberts-Smith’s lawyers to claim that the three Afghan witnesses who testified this week fabricated their evidence – but these witnesses would seem to have no compelling reason for lying.
After all, they owe nothing to the newspapers that Roberts-Smith is suing. The evidence given by each of the witnesses was perfectly consistent and quite believable, and they all withstood rigorous cross-examination well.
When the trial resumes, the defendants will lead evidence from 23 Australian soldiers who served in Afghanistan, who are expected to confirm the accounts of the Darwan atrocity given by the three Afghan witnesses this week, as well as giving evidence about other incidents involving Roberts-Smith.
Whatever the outcome of Roberts-Smith’s defamation case and these further investigations, it is already perfectly clear that Australia’s foolhardy military involvement in Afghanistan was nothing less than a complete and utter debacle.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2021.