Australia war hero appeals civil court ruling of complicity in Afghan murders


SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s most decorated living war veteran lodged an appeal on Tuesday against a civil court defamation ruling that found he played a part in the murder of four Afghans while serving in Afghanistan, court records showed.

Former SAS corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, who won Australia’s highest military honour the Victoria Cross for his actions in Afghanistan, had sued three newspapers and their journalists over articles which accused him of killing unarmed Afghan civilians outside the rules of war.

But a Federal Court judge ruled on June 1 that the newspapers had proven most of their allegations.

Roberts-Smith filed an appeal on July 11, the court said in a website post, without providing any further details.

A lawyer for Roberts-Smith was not immediately available for comment.

The media company that owns the newspapers that published the reports, Nine Entertainment Co, was not immediately available for comment.

Roberts-Smith, who was not in court for the June 1 judgment, was quoted as saying on June 15 that he stood by his actions while serving in the military and disagreed with the outcome of his lawsuit.

“It’s a terrible outcome and it’s the incorrect outcome,” he was quoted telling Nine’s television arm.

“We will look at (the judgement) and consider whether or not we need to file an appeal,” he said at the time.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Robert Birsel)

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