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Testimony of witness branded 'tissue of lies'

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National security correspondent

View more articles from David Wroe

Court martial: Corporal Aaron Sweet was referred for a psychological exam.

Court martial: Corporal Aaron Sweet was referred for a psychological exam. Photo: Melissa Adams

A key witness in the court martial of a military policeman accused of trying to cover up the apparent beating of an Afghan prisoner was recommended for a psychological evaluation to see if he was fit for the army, a court heard on Wednesday.

Corporal Aaron Sweet has given evidence that his former superior officer Major David Pratt falsified a log book to conceal a prisoner's complaint about his treatment by Australian soldiers when he was arrested in late 2010.

The man was brought to the Initial Screening Area at Tarin Kowt base in Oruzgan with injuries to his face and blood on his face and beard, the Canberra court martial has been told.

Major Pratt faces five charges relating to two incidents in late 2010: one charge of suppressing a service document, two charges of removing a service document - one of which is an alternative to the first charge - and three charges of making false entries in log books.

Defence counsel Major Jonathan Hyde branded Corporal Sweet's testimony on Wednesday a ''tissue of lies'' as the corporal acknowledged under cross-examination that his evidence differed from what he had said previously.

Corporal Sweet told the court that Major Pratt falsely wrote in a ''prisoner under capture'' log book that the detainee had said he was happy with his treatment.

The corporal said in his testimony that the prisoner had said, ''I want to make a complaint'', but admitted he had neither recorded this in his diary nor told military investigators in his original interview.

Corporal Sweet said that, as early as day two of his deployment in 2010, he had feared he might be harmed or killed by fellow Australian soldiers if they found out he was keeping a diary of his experiences on his laptop. The corporal's diary was titled, ''Going to war: the fight within''.

The court was told that a Lieutenant-Colonel Shearman had interviewed Corporal Sweet in November 2010 and concluded his fears for his life were ''not credible''.

Colonel Shearman went on to conclude Corporal Sweet should be ''referred for psychological examination to … consider his suitability to continue in the army'', according to his report, which was read to the court.

He also found that Corporal Sweet was ''unable to build a rapport with'' fellow soldiers, and concluded that Corporal Sweet was ''preoccupied'' with the idea there was bias against him because he was a reservist. He had also been ''formally counselled'' after he left a cell door unlocked while there was a prisoner inside.

The trial continues.

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