SAS witness has no memory of key tunnel

·2-min read

Another SAS soldier called by Ben Roberts-Smith to testify in the defamation trial he launched does not remember a contentious tunnel in Afghanistan two men were allegedly found inside.

The serving elite soldier codenamed Person 27 began giving evidence in the Federal Court on Monday about a key mission to the Taliban compound Whiskey 108 in Uruzgan province in 2009.

The Victoria Cross recipient is suing for defamation The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald over reports claiming he committed war crimes in Afghanistan including murder, and acts of bullying and domestic violence.

The 43-year-old denies all claims of wrongdoing, while the mastheads are defending them as true.

The war veteran's friend said he never saw a tunnel entrance, nor did he hear a radio transmission that one was found while several patrols were clearing the Whiskey 108 area.

He also could not recall any fighting-aged Afghan males found within the compound but confirmed taking some women over to another construction dubbed Whiskey 109.

Another SAS member anonymised as Person 42 earlier testified that a group of agitated women alerted his squad to the entrance of the tunnel where two men came out - unarmed, freely and relatively quickly.

Person 42 said the discovery was made alongside Person 35, who denied this saying "no men" were found inside the tunnel.

Person 27 said he later heard a rumour "bandied around" that two men were found inside the secret enclosure, but can't recall when.

Whether two prisoners were found inside the tunnel is a key issue in the case.

Several soldiers have testified they helped or watched the men out of the tunnel, while Ben Roberts-Smith's witnesses have denied this occurred.

Mr Roberts-Smith is accused of executing one of the unarmed prisoners who had a prosthetic leg, while he denies this and says he shot the insurgent within the rules of engagement.

And he allegedly stood by while a young trooper called Person Four was ordered by his patrol commander to execute the other, to get his first kill in action.

Person Four successfully objected to giving evidence on this topic, citing self-incrimination.

Person 27 said he did not hear or see any engagements within the Whiskey 108 compound.

But he was aware of a prosthetic leg removed from a dead body inside the compound and taken to troop headquarters at Tarin Kowt.

He said the leg was then mounted at their makeshift bar called the Fat Lady's Arms, and confirmed he participated in drinking from it.

"Because ... it seemed to be the thing that was done."

The trial abruptly ended early with an evacuation warning siren heard in the NSW Law Courts building, and will return on Tuesday morning.

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