Ben Roberts-Smith spotted at Anzac Day events after landmark war crime trial

Ben Roberts-Smith spotted at Anzac Day events after landmark war crime trial
Ben Roberts-Smith spotted at Anzac Day events after landmark war crime trial

Australia’s most decorated soldier-turned-war criminal Ben Roberts-Smith has been spotted in attendance at Anzac Day commemorations in Perth.

The disgraced veteran was seen at Western Australia’s chief dawn service at Kings Park on Thursday morning and later at the parade in the CBD, accompanied by his partner Sarah Matulin.

Roberts-Smith was seated among dignitaries at the early morning event, donning his many military decorations which he continues to retain due to not being convicted for his offences criminally but only having findings made against him in a civil trial.

His Thursday spotting comes among the few public appearances he has made since losing a multi-million-dollar defamation suit to Nine newspapers – The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times – last year over allegations of war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

In June, the federal court found Roberts-Smith – on the balance of probabilities – was involved or complicit in the murder of four unarmed Afghan civilians during his Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) posting, including the killing of a defenceless man who was kicked off a cliff and then shot under the corporal’s command in 2012.

Justice Anthony Besanko found “substantial truth” to a series of war crime claims published by Nine in 2018, along with allegations of bullying towards a colleague.

The Victoria Cross recipient continues to hold his military medals as the government is unable to strip them based on the outcome of a civil defamation trial in which the burden of proof is significantly lower than in a criminal trial.

A criminal investigation against him, led by the Office of the Special Investigator and Federal Police, remains ongoing. Roberts-Smith lodged an appeal against the defamation judgement early this year.

The Australian War Memorial has several items belonging to the 45-year-old on display in its galleries, including his uniform, equipment, medals and associated artworks.

Along with the Victoria Cross, which is the most prestigious award for “acts of bravery in wartime”, Roberts-Smith also holds a medal for gallantry during his service in Afghanistan.

A plaque installed next to his displays in the Canberra gallery last year acknowledged the legal findings against him.

“The memorial acknowledges the gravity of the decision in the Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG defamation case and its broader impact on all involved in the Australian community. This is the outcome of a civil legal case, and one step in a longer process,” the plaques read.


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