The Australian Federal Police has launched yet another investigation into Australia’s most decorated Afghan war veteran Ben Roberts-Smith, who has since been accused of committing war crimes, The Age reports.
This fresh investigation will probe Roberts-Smith’s alleged involvement in a conspiracy to silence witnesses, which was made public after 60 Minutes and The Age unearthed a hidden stash of photos from the war which the soldier had buried in his back yard.
The Victoria Cross recipient and so-called war hero allegedly planned to send anonymous letters to other SAS soldiers who he feared might testify against him at a war crimes inquiry. The AFP seized those letters in March, which had already been sealed in envelopes.
Police have also uncovered at least five burner phones with multiple SIM cards from different mobile carriers which Roberts-Smith arranged to have purchased in 2018.
This new information about alleged collusion comes after police already seized hundreds of damning photos which were found on USB sticks buried in Roberts-Smith’s back yard.
The photos contained shocking scenes from Australia’s invasion of Afghanistan, including a soldier dressed up as a Ku Klux Klan member, other soldiers drinking beer from the prosthetic leg taken from a killed Afghani man, and the desecrated corpse of another Afghani man with two souvenir military coins placed over his eyes – his face still freshly splattered with blood.
The collusion investigation is the third such probe into Roberts-Smith’s actions. Two previous but ongoing investigations are also looking at claims of war crimes, such as the allegation that Roberts-Smith kicked a defenseless prisoner off a cliff, killing him in the process.
Roberts-Smith launched an ongoing defamation case against Nine newspapers and investigative journalist Nick McKenzie back in 2018. Nine also owns PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“Mr Roberts Smith denies that he has engaged in any unlawful conduct and he will not be intimidated by Mr McKenzie or Nine into continuing with the Federal Court proceedings against them,” the statement on Tuesday read.
The publisher will argue that the reported allegations are “substantially true”.