Former Australian soldier says won’t apologize for his war crimes in Afghanistan

Ben Roberts-Smith, the former top Australian soldier, who was convicted of war crime by the court, has defended the atrocities he committed during his service in Afghanistan and has said he would not apologize for his actions.

In his first public comments since the court ruling on Wednesday, Roberts-Smith, holder of the Victoria Cross and other top military honors, said he remained proud of his actions in Afghanistan, where he served in the Special Air Service on six tours from 2006 to 2012.

“I’m devastated with the result, it’s a terrible outcome and it’s the incorrect outcome,” Roberts-Smith, who was not in the country when the order was passed, told television network Nine Entertainment (NEC.AX) at Perth Airport late on Wednesday.

Asked if he would be apologizing to the families of the victims affected by his actions in Afghanistan, Roberts-Smith said “We haven’t done anything wrong, so we won’t be making any apologies.”

“We will look at it (the judgment) and consider whether or not we need to file an appeal,” Roberts-Smith said in the brief airport interview. “We’ll just have to work through it and I’ll take the advice as it comes.”

On June 1, the 44-year-old former soldier lost the defamation case he filed against three newspapers—The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Canberra Times —which reported that he had murdered unarmed prisoners and civilians and bullied peers while serving in Afghanistan between 2009-2012.

Federal Court Judge Anthony Besanko passed his full judgment and said the newspapers had proven “substantial truth” in their reporting.

Roberts-Smith, who left the defense force in 2013, has not been charged so far over any of the claims in a criminal court. He is yet to be tried in a criminal court where there is a higher burden of proof.

Notably, none of the evidence presented in the civil defamation case against Roberts-Smith can be used in any criminal proceedings and requires the investigators to gather their own independently.

This week it was confirmed that the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) – which is responsible for addressing criminal matters related to the Australian Defense Force in Afghanistan – would work alongside Australian Federal Police (AFP) to examine three alleged murders local media say involve the former soldier.

The killings took place at a compound code-named Whiskey 108 in the southern Afghan village of Darwan where two local men were found huddled in a tunnel.

Roberts-Smith was also charged with shooting dead an unarmed Afghan teenage spotter, kicking a handcuffed man off a cliff before ordering him to be shot dead, and pressuring a lower-ranking Australian soldier to execute an elderly, unarmed Afghan.

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