War veteran Ben Roberts-Smith threatened to choke a man to death with his bare hands in Afghanistan, and also punched and kneed an unarmed frightened prisoner, an SAS witness has told the Federal Court.
The witness codenamed Person Seven said on Wednesday that he was searching a compound in the Deh Rafshan area in 2010 when he and another soldier located a man sitting cross-legged on carpet.
“I thought there was no threat whatsoever from this individual.”
He then rolled over into a fetal position making a “whimpering type sound” and in ‘”serious fear” tensed up so tightly the soldiers were unable to move and detain him.
Person Seven turned to his comrade and said “this bloke is s***ing himself” and decided to give him a moment to settle down.
At that point Mr Roberts-Smith walked into the room, didn’t say a word, marched past the two men and got down on his knees.
“He delivered three to four quick punches into the side of the Afghan’s head … then two knees” to his chest and stomach area.
When the kneeing started, Person Seven said he yelled words to the effect: “Whoah whoah, what are you doing? We’re looking after this, get out of here.”
“At that point, he stood up walked out of the room, did not say a word,” the witness said.
Nicholas Owens SC, on behalf of the media outlets Mr Roberts-Smith is suing for defamation, asked if the use of force was warranted.
“I felt it was completely and utterly unnecessary,” Person Seven replied.
The Victoria Cross recipient has strenuously denied the allegation.
The 43-year-old is suing The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times over reports that he committed war crimes and murders in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012.
Days after the July 2012 death of Sergeant Blaine Flower Diddams who was killed during a battle in Afghanistan, Person Seven recalled Mr Roberts-Smith talking to him before deployment.
“Before this trip’s over, I’m going to choke a man to death with my bare hands,” Mr Roberts-Smith allegedly said.
“I’m going to look him in the eye and I’m going to watch the life drain out of his eyes.”
Person Seven said he responded that he was busy and they needed to “switch on” before the mission.
The trial continues.
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