The defamation trial mesmerising Australia comes down to just this: is Ben Roberts-Smith a murderer or an innocent man?
It’s the end of the first week of the largest defamation trial in Australia and the central issue could not be clearer. Did Ben Roberts-Smith, this country’s most awarded soldier of the modern era, commit six murders and an act of domestic violence? Could this veteran of the Afghanistan war have gone beyond the rules of conflict to unlawfully kill six men and also assault a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair?
If he wins the case, Roberts-Smith will go back to the life he had before the newspaper stories he claims defamed him were published: a war hero with a Victoria Cross who represented his country at hundreds of public engagements enjoying a lucrative career as a public speaker.
If he loses, he will go down in history as a monster who, in the heat of battle, besmirched the sacred reputation of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
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