SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s most decorated living war veteran has begun a defamation trial against three Australian newspapers that he alleges depicted him as a criminal who broke rules of military engagement in Afghanistan. Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith is suing The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times over articles published in 2018. His lawyer told the court Roberts-Smith was courageous and his reputation had been damaged by jealousy. Newspaper owner Nine Entertainment is relying on truth as its defense. An Australian military report found evidence that elite troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghans. It recommended 19 soldiers be investigated for possible criminal charges, but the defense forces chief would not say whether Roberts-Smith was a suspect in those cases.
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