Roberts-Smith's friend probed on images

·3-min read

Ben Roberts-Smith's former patrol commander has denied changing his evidence to counteract alleged flaws and inconsistencies that make his story implausible, a court was told.

The witness codenamed Person Five on Tuesday returned to the Federal Court witness box for his fourth day of evidence.

The former SAS soldier is appearing on behalf of his good friend Mr Roberts-Smith who is suing The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times for defamation.

The war veteran denies all reported claims he committed war crimes in Afghanistan including murder, and acts of bullying and domestic violence, while the mastheads are defending them as true.

Barrister Nicholas Owens SC on behalf of the newspapers has accused Person Five of giving false evidence about key allegations said to have occurred on a 2009 mission to a Taliban compound dubbed Whiskey 108.

Person Five says he ran out from a meeting after hearing shots fired and was told by Mr Roberts-Smith that he and a young trooper had engaged two insurgents, and quickly returned inside the compound.

Mr Owens submitted if that was true, he would have stayed and further inquired as to where the men had come from to better understand the nature of the threat more enemies potentially posed.

"No," he responded.

The media outlets allege two men were found in a secret tunnel and claim Person Five ordered "rookie" Person Four to execute one, to get his first kill in action.

His second-in-command Mr Roberts-Smith was allegedly left to facilitate this command, and is accused of executing the other prisoner with a prosthetic leg.

Both men deny this occurred or that any men emerged from the tunnel.

Mr Owens pointed to an image of an old man's body, showing a significant amount of brain matter and blood all around it.

He submitted it showed the body was photographed near the tunnel entrance and had clearly not been moved before it was photographed, as Person Five has testified.

"I'm not a forensics expert, I can't comment on that," he responded.

"There is no trail of blood to show the body had been moved," Mr Owens said.

Person Five agreed he could not see any trail of blood.

"You thought you couldn't trust the Afghan judicial system to keep these two men off the battlefield," Mr Owens said.

"No it was accepted as part of the game, we knew the judicial system was corrupt," Person Five said, adding he'd seen hundreds of prisoners return to the battleground.

Mr Owens argued that Person Five believed these two prisoners were Taliban, and if handed over may potentially end up back in conflict injuring Australian soldiers.

"I don't agree."

Person Five also denied later being frustrated with his 2IC that these two executions was performed in the open, and not concealed out of sight from air surveillance.

Another witness has testified of hearing this conversation, with Person Five saying to Mr Roberts-Smith: "You've just done this while the ISR is still flying above and may have recorded you".

He said the Victoria Cross recipient responded with a hint of panic in his voice.

The trial continues.

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