Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith was photographed cheering on an American soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a suspected Afghan militant whose death is now the subject of a war crimes investigation against the war hero

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have received two photos of Roberts-Smith, the most decorated living soldier in the country, posing with the prosthetic leg that was used as a novelty drinking vessel

SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith with US soldiers and a prosthetic leg removed from an Afghan he killed. The leg was used as a beer drinking vessel at the SAS base in Afghanistan and was known as “Das Boot”

The photos contradict the claims made by Mr Roberts-Smith’s attorney in federal court last year that the war hero was completely disgusted with the use of the leg as a drinking vessel. Attorney Bruce McClintock insisted that Mr Roberts-Smith “never drank of this thing … Because he thought it disgusting to use a body part as a souvenir, albeit an artificial one from someone who had been killed in action “

Mr McClintock told federal court that Mr Roberts-Smith was the one who killed the disabled Afghan militant and said he was a member of the Taliban. This murder is suspected of being an execution by police and is now the subject of an investigation by the Australian federal police on war crimes and preliminary evidence from the prosecutor

The first photo is of Mr. Roberts-Smith, some time after the 2009 Faust murder, when an American soldier is having a beer in a makeshift Afghan bar known as Fat Lady’s Arms, based on the Australian special forces unit Tarin Kowt

drinks from the leg

The other photo shows Mr. Roberts-Smith grinning as his arm is around another US soldier who is wearing a cowboy hat and posing with the prosthetic leg

Mr. Roberts-Smith’s attorney told federal court last year that his client was “disgusted” with the use of the leg as a beer-drinking vessel

The Age and Herald reported two years ago that the leg had been removed from a dead Afghan by another soldier in March 2009 and used as a beer drinking vessel.In 2018, The Age and Herald reported how the leg was sometimes marked on a wooden plaque an iron cross and the heading “Das Boot” was mounted

The Wrong Link gained further notoriety earlier this month when photos of soldiers and NCOs who drank from it were leaked to The Guardian The photos provided to The Guardian did not include pictures of Mr Roberts-Smith, of the posing with the leg

Several official sources, speaking on condition that the investigation is still ongoing, have told The Age and Herald that Mr Roberts-Smith is re-investigating in addition to ongoing federal police task forces that are already investigating him will initiate war crimes

Sources confirmed that federal police are investigating Roberts-Smith over multiple eyewitness reports from his colleagues in the Special Air Service Regiment claiming he had the unarmed Afghan militant who carried the leg during an Easter operation in Kakarak, southern Afghanistan , executed Sunday 2009 This suspected execution is the subject of a preliminary criminal brief recently submitted by the Federal Police to Commonwealth Prosecutors

Police are also investigating allegations from SASR insiders that Roberts-Smith and a second soldier pressured a junior soldier to execute a second Afghan man found on the same Kakarak property in a “bloody” incident “Blooding” is pressure from junior soldiers to unceremoniously execute prisoners. The practice was identified in the Brereton investigative report into war crimes allegations by a small clique of Australian SAS soldiers in Afghanistan

The Brereton report identified a “warrior culture” that allowed war crimes to be committed allegedly without naming a person, the Brereton report found that 25 special forces soldiers may have executed 39 Afghans and called on federal police to open several new investigations

It separately criticized the unruly or unruly behavior of some soldiers on the arms of the fat lady

The Brereton Inquiry examined Mr. Roberts-Smith extensively for three years, but his suspected role in several war crimes was only made public through whistleblower reports made available to The Age and Herald

This man, whose right leg is prosthetic, was one of the Afghans killed in an incident in 2009 that was a suspected war crime.We decided to blur the picture

In a confidential AFP letter sent in late 2019, detectives had received eyewitness reports involving him in alleged war crimes in addition to the Kakarak murders, the task forces provided prosecutors with preliminary evidence of the allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith threw a prisoner named Ali Jan off a cliff in 2012

The AFP letter was revealed in a defamation case brought by Mr. Roberts-Smith against The Age and Herald. Mr. Roberts-Smith has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing

Hundreds of photos show dozens of soldiers and officers drinking from the trunk, and the selective leakage of a small number of them on the fat lady’s arms to The Guardian has the focus in part on whistleblowers or witnesses and away from accused soldiers relocated actually executing prisoners

The Guardian story, written by freelance journalist Rory Callinan, included photos of two blurry-faced soldiers posing with boots on. The story alleged that “ordinary” soldiers believe “commonplace” soldiers are wrongly criticized by the Brereton report and that drinking from the boot could be classified as a war crime of pillage since the leg was owned without its owner’s consent

There was no mention in the article that the Afghan man who carried the leg was allegedly executed or that Mr Roberts-Smith was a police suspect

More than a dozen defense sources said the two soldiers in the photos released by Mr Callinan and the Guardian were part of a group of alleged witnesses alleged to assist the Federal Police’s War Crimes Task Force, according to the sources, one of the two had in The Guardian The soldier depicted disclosed his own role in leg removal and manipulation in 2017, which was also not reported in the Guardian article

Despite efforts to contact him, Mr Callinan could not be reached before the deadline. Sources at The Guardian said the British media giant was unaware that the two soldiers depicted in the photos published could be police witnesses

There is no evidence that Mr Roberts-Smith took the photos of the two soldiers as suspected police witnesses or is related to the Guardian reports, however the former soldier works with public relations firm Cato & Clive and the PR staff and former journalist Ross Coulthart together

The work of the two task forces of the Federal Police will be reviewed and summarized in the coming weeks by the Office of the Special Investigator, which was established by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November, as a 75-person team of detectives from the Federal and State Police will be formed. Prosecutors and experts

Several official sources said a key role for the office, which is partly headed by former Victorian top judge Mark Weinberg, will be determining how to manage the evidence of Mr Roberts-Smith’s alleged war crimes that are have already been discovered by the federal police forces

Some commentators, including former Chief Defense Officer Admiral Chris Barrie, have asked whether the Brereton Inquiry has adequately addressed the issue of officer and high command responsibility despite the Brereton probe’s in-depth investigations into the matter; Others have given Angus Campbell, den Defense Forces chief attacked for handling the Brereton report and demanding support for the removal of a deserving quote from the unit from the SASR

The Brereton Report says forensic investigations and hundreds of interviews revealed no direct knowledge or involvement of officers in war crimes, but the investigation still found that some commanders had moral and managerial responsibility for the alleged executions that they faced Hidden by soldiers Suspect whistleblowers and witnesses to war crimes have also been targeted in some recent media reports, according to defense sources

Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defense Association, wrote on Friday: “To our national disadvantage, much of the public discussion of war crimes allegedly committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan is focused on secondary, peripheral or irrelevant issues”

“Straw man arguments have also been made by those on other agendas, including a desire to cover up the vital fact that premeditated and systemic war crimes [allegedly] were committed and that they were inexcusable,” he wrote, Mr James stressed that accused persons are entitled to the presumption of innocence

Mr. Roberts-Smith has made several media statements, including the false claim that a media tip – rather than a referral from the Brereton Investigation and Defense – prompted the police investigation into his conduct

A statement promising the release of new photos of officers being drunk from the trunk was distributed among the SASR, veterans groups and journalists this week, although their authenticity could not be verified

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Nick McKenzie is an investigative reporter who has been named Australian Journalist of the Year twice. Winner of ten Walkley Awards, he investigates politics, business, foreign / defense, human rights issues and police / criminal justice

Gold Walkley award-winning journalist and author He was the first Australian journalist to be embedded in special forces in Afghanistan

Ben Roberts-Smith

World News – AU – Ben Roberts-Smith imagined cheering soldiers drinking from the prosthetic leg of a man he had shot

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/national/ben-roberts-smith-pictured-cheering-soldiers-drinking-from-the-prosthetic-leg-of-a-man-he-shot-20201220-p56p2y.html