News Two witnesses say ‘big soldier’ kicked man

Two witnesses say ‘big soldier’ kicked man

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A second Afghan farmer has told Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial that he saw a “big soldier” kick a man named Ali Jan down into a river bed during an SAS raid.

Shahzad Aka, 70, from Darwan in Uruzgan province, on Friday began giving evidence at the trial via audio-visual link from Kabul about the SAS mission on September 11, 2012, in which Ali Jan was killed.

The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times newspapers claim Ali Jan was handcuffed and kicked off a cliff at Darwan while the war hero says the man was a Taliban spotter shot in a cornfield.

Mr Shahzad, Ali Jan’s brother-in-law, told the court he saw soldiers tie up the hands of Ali Jan and another villager, Mohammed Hanifa, then sit them down near a wall.

The witness said the big soldier then made Ali Jan stand.

“I saw Ali Jan, Ali Jan’s hands were tied up, they made him stand up, Ali Jan was facing the soldier, then the soldier kicked him and he went down.”

“Where did he go down?” the newspapers’ barrister Nicholas Owens SC asked.

“He fell down … maybe you call it a river, he fell down there,” the witness replied.

Mr Shahzad said after that he saw the big soldier go down a path before disappearing from his view.

Mr Hanifa, another witness in the Federal Court case, has testified that he saw Ali Jan kicked into a river bed by a big soldier then saw Ali Jan dragged to a berry tree.

Also on Friday, Man Gul, another Darwan local, rejected suggestions from Mr Roberts-Smith’s barrister Bruce McClintock SC that he didn’t see a “big solider” during the raid.

The witness has previously testified that while handcuffed during the raid he was hit twice by a big soldier.

“I saw him,” Mr Gul said.

He denied making up seeing the big soldier at the behest of another person, telling the court “no one has suggested that to me, no one has told me what to say and what not to say”.

He also rejected the barrister’s submission that he discussed the issue of the big soldier with Mr Hanifa.

“No we had no such conversation … we both saw it, also the third person Ali Jan but unfortunately he’s not alive,” Mr Gul told the court.

Mr Gul has previously testified that in the raid he asked Mr Hanifa about Ali Jan’s whereabouts and that Mr Hanifa told him Ali Jan was kicked “and went down to the river”.

Mr Gul said he later went to the river bed and saw blood, then walked near to a berry tree where Ali Jan was on his back dead with gunshot wounds to the jaw and skull.

The witness said a small group of villagers then cleaned Ali Jan’s face of dust, brought him under the shade of the tree, then put a shawl over his body.

The trial in Sydney continues.

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