Australian soldier guilty of war crimes refuses to apologize
In his first public appearance since the ruling, Ben Roberts-Smith, holder of the Victoria Cross and other top military honors, refuses to apologize for killing Afghani citizens.
At the beginning of this month, an Australian federal court judge in Sydney ruled that Ben Roberts-Smith VC, the country's "most decorated" living soldier, committed war crimes, including the murder of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.
In his first public appearance since the ruling, Ben Roberts-Smith, holder of the Victoria Cross and other top military honors, refused to apologize for killing Afghani citizens, stating that he remained proud of his actions in Afghanistan.
It is worth noting that he served in the Special Air Service on six tours from 2006 to 2012.
"We will look at it and consider whether or not we need to file an appeal," Roberts-Smith said during an interview for a local television crew at the Perth Airport baggage on Wednesday.
On June 1, Justice Anthony Besanko found Ben Roberts-Smith guilty of war crimes after he had sued media outlets for defamation for revealing some of the crimes he had committed in Afghanistan.
Justice Anthony Besanko found Roberts-Smith guilty of kicking a handcuffed prisoner off a cliff in 2012 and ordering a subordinate soldier to shoot the injured man.
Additionally, Roberts-Smith was found responsible for the killing of an elderly man found hiding in a tunnel and the murder of a disabled man with a prosthetic leg, both during the same mission in 2009 when Australian forces attacked a compound codenamed "Whiskey 108".
The judgment, reached after a year-long defamation trial, does not constitute a criminal finding but is based on the civil standard of "balance of probabilities," according to Australian law. The federal court has published a summary of the judgment, with the full reasons set to be released once national security concerns have been addressed by the Commonwealth.
The newspapers sued by Roberts-Smith have requested time to assess the trial costs. The ruling is expected to result in Roberts-Smith being liable to pay millions of dollars in costs to the newspapers, with the total trial expenses estimated to be over $35 million (£18.3 million).
Roberts-Smith, who had borrowed $2 million from his employer, Channel Seven owner Kerry Stokes, for the defamation case, is now at risk of losing his Victoria Cross medal, which he had used as collateral.
The former Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) soldier is currently in Bali, Indonesia, where he is enjoying the weather and could be seen sunbathing at a resort, according to screenshots published by media outlets, and was not under obligation to attend the hearing.
The judge said Roberts-Smith is a "criminal" who "broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement."