Liberal MP Andrew Hastie is one of 21 former and serving SAS soldiers expected to appear as witnesses for the defence

Ben Roberts-SmithLiberal MP Andrew Hastie is one of 21 former and serving SAS soldiers expected to appear as witnesses for the defence
The assistant defence minister and former SAS captain Andrew Hastie is slated to give evidence for the respondent newspapers in the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case.
In a witness list released publicly on Thursday, Hastie is listed as a likely witness for three newspapers that Roberts-Smith says alleged he committed war crimes, including murder, while on deployment with the SAS in Afghanistan.
Hastie was an SAS captain, who served in the Australian defence force between 2003 and 2015. He served two tours of Afghanistan, and was trained by Roberts-Smith on an SAS officers training course in 2010.
He is now the Liberal member for Canning in Western Australia and assistant minister for defence.
Ben Roberts-Smith traumatised by allegations he murdered unarmed civilians, court hears
Hastie has written previously about being troubled by a warrior culture within the SAS.
The warrior ethos I sometimes saw was about power, ego and self-adulation. It worshipped war itself. It was the opposite of the humility that I expected to find at SASR (Special Air Services Regiment).
Hastie has said he supported the inquiry conducted by Justice Paul Brereton, the inspector general of the ADF, into allegations of war crimes.
When wrong is done, we must hold ourselves to account, he wrote.
Hastie is one of 21 former and serving SAS soldiers expected to give evidence for the defence in the case.
Other witnesses slated to appear for the newspapers include Roberts-Smiths estranged former wife, Emma Roberts, family friend Danielle Scott, and John McLeod, a former police officer and private investigator who, it is alleged, was asked by Roberts-Smith to post threatening letters to serving members of the SAS warning them against giving evidence to a defence force inquiry into war crimes.
Also listed to give evidence for the newspapers are four Afghan nationals, relatives of slain man Ali Jan and residents of the village of Darwan, the site of a key allegation against Roberts-Smith.
The former Liberal leader and head of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson, and the former surgeon general of the Australian Border Force, Dr Parbodh Gogna, are both listed as reputation witnesses for Roberts-Smith.
The witness list reveals a number of SAS soldiers will give evidence for opposite sides in this case.
In one allegation, an SAS soldier who was the patrol commander, known as Person 5, ordered a subordinate soldier, Person 4, to force an unarmed civilian to his knees and shoot him in the back of the head an action that was allegedly carried out.
Roberts-Smith was second-in-command of that patrol and allegedly did nothing to stop the alleged unlawful order being carried out.
Person 4 is listed to give evidence on behalf of the newspapers.
Person 5 is listed to give evidence on behalf of Roberts-Smith.
On Thursday, Roberts-Smith spent a day in the witness box under forensic cross-examination about his actions in Afghanistan.
Nicholas Owens, acting for the newspapers the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times asked Roberts-Smith in minute detail about two key murder allegations made against him.
The alleged murder of an Afghan farmer named Ali Jan in Darwan on 11 September 2012 has become a centrepiece of the allegations
In the newspapers defence documents before court, it is alleged that Ali Jan had been handcuffed during an SAS raid on Darwan. As helicopters were coming to extract the Australian soldiers, Roberts-Smith allegedly took Ali Jan to the edge of a small cliff and forced him into a kneeling position.
Roberts-Smith is then alleged to have kicked him hard in the midriff causing him to fall back over the cliff and land in the dry creek bed below. The impact of the fall to the dry creek below was so significant that it knocked Ali Jans teeth out of his mouth.
[Roberts-Smith] directed a soldier under his command to kill Ali Jan, which he did.
Roberts-Smith told the court the killing never happened, and he had never killed an unarmed prisoner.
He said at the end of the raid on Darwan on that day, he was following another soldier anonymised in court documents as Person 11 walking along a dry creek bed towards the helicopter extraction point.
Person 11 climbed an embankment and immediately opened fire upon an alleged spotter a forward scout who reports soldiers movements back to insurgents who was hiding in a cornfield.
Roberts-Smith said he climbed the embankment using one hand to pull himself up to assist Person 11 in the firefight and also fired at the man, who was about two metres away.
By that time the spotter was already down or going down, so it was effectively done, he told the court.
The man was killed and, Roberts-Smith said, found to be in possession of a radio.
Person 11 is slated to give evidence for Roberts-Smith.
Roberts-Smith was also asked about his killing of a man outside a compound called Whiskey 108 in 2009. The man had a prosthetic leg that was later souvenired by another soldier and used as a drinking vessel at the SASs unofficial on-base bar, the Fat Ladies Arms.
The former corporal told the court the man was a Taliban insurgent armed with a rifle and was a legitimate target, killed legally under the rules of engagement.
He said he saw the insurgent moving across in front of him running with his shoulders hunched over and carrying his weapon in one hand. In a split second decision he opened fire and killed the man.
In court documents, the newspapers allege Roberts-Smith carried the man, who was unarmed, outside the compound, before throwing him to the ground and shooting him 10 to 15 times with a machine gun.
[The man] was a PUC person under control who posed no imminent threat, particularly given that [the man] was physically impaired and [Roberts-Smith] was able to carry him outside of the compound and throw him to the ground, the newspapers have alleged.
Roberts-Smith is suing the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times for defamation over a series of ­reports published in 2018 that he alleges are defamatory because they portray him as someone who broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement and committed war crimes including murder.
The 42-year-old has consistently denied the allegations, saying they are false, baseless and completely without any foundation in truth. The newspapers are defending their reporting as true.
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