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SAS witness probed over AFP investigation

By Greta Stonehouse
A friend of Ben Roberts-Smith's has denied trying to thwart an AFP investigation into war crimes. (AAP)

A former SAS soldier has denied trying to thwart an Australian Federal Police investigation into war crimes he is accused of alongside Ben Roberts-Smith.

The witness codenamed Person 11 in the Federal Court on Wednesday was giving evidence on behalf of the decorated soldier and his good friend in his defamation case.

Nicholas Owens SC representing the media outlets being sued suggested Person 11 was using the civil suit "to influence whether a prosecution may ever be brought" by Australian authorities.

"(That) is not my intent .. (it) is to tell the truth because there are allegations against me. I am here to set the record straight," Person 11 said.

The standard of proof is lower in a civil suit than required in a criminal trial, Mr Owens said, suggesting that Person 11 believed a win for Mr Roberts-Smith in the defamation trial would personally help him.

"(You think) it is less likely you will ever be charged with murder."

Person 11 rejected this, saying "the truth will prevail".

It has been alleged that Person 11 executed a handcuffed prisoner named Ali Jan after he was kicked off a cliff by the Victoria Cross recipient during a September 2012 mission in Darwan.

Both men deny all allegations of wrongdoing and say the dead man was a Taliban spotter lawfully engaged in a cornfield.

Mr Roberts-Smith is suing The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times over 2018 reports claiming he committed war crimes in Afghanistan including murder, and acts of bullying and domestic violence.

The 43-year-old denies all claims of wrongdoing, while the mastheads are defending them as true.

Another witness, dubbed Person Four, who was best man at Person 11's wedding, has given evidence that in Darwan he witnessed Mr Roberts-Smith kick the prisoner off a steep slope.

After hearing shots ring out Person Four said he observed Person 11 standing in a position to shoot before the radio was planted on the body.

After these allegations surfaced, Person 11 said he cut ties with his former good friend and mentor, but denied he was angry or felt betrayed.

The court was told Person 11's legal fees had amounted to $125,000, but that he never queried the amount or who was paying the lawyers Mr Roberts-Smith had arranged for him.

"If given a bill tomorrow I will pay."

The trial continues.

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Dive Deeper:
Ex-soldier denies bid to avoid murder rap
A former SAS soldier has denied concocting a story with friend Ben Roberts-Smith to hide an alleged murder of an…
SAS witness denies Afghan teen murdered
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One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Get all your news in one place