Police are reviewing a social media photo apparently posted by a serving Queensland police officer appearing to show Ben Roberts-Smith and Zachary Rolfe enjoying themselves in a hot tub in Bali.
Mr Rolfe appeared to comment on the photo: “Just a couple of cops/murderers and war criminals Havin a lovely afternoon in the sun.”
The photo was taken at Finns Beach Club in Bali and was recently posted on Instagram by a Queensland police officer.
The picture has now been circulated beyond the account’s followers.
Rolfe, a former Northern Territory police officer, was found not guilty of the murder of Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker in March.
A lengthy defamation court battle found on the balance of probabilities that Mr Roberts-Smith was complicit in the murder of four unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan after a number of newspapers accused him of being a war criminal.
Mr Roberts-Smith, Australia’s most decorated veteran, has always denied wrongdoing and has launched an appeal.
An account called “zaccourtier”, which appears to be Rolfe’s private page, commented on the picture: “Just a couple of cops/murderers and war criminals Havin a lovely afternoon in the sun.”
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is aware of the post and will make inquiries upon the officer‘s return to work, The Guardian reported.
QPS guidelines hold officers responsible for their posts and emphasise that there is no such thing as a truly private social media post.
Officers are prohibited from engaging in online activities that would bring the service into disrepute or undermine its standing.
Mr Rolfe did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about if he was the person who commented on the photo.
During Mr Roberts-Smith’s defamation case, Rolfe’s mother Debbie told the court that the pair met in a Canberra store in 2011.
She said the pair bonded because Mr Rolfe had recently joined the army.
“In particular, Ben has been very kind and helpful towards Zach, with Ben having acted as a mentor to him,” she said.
Mr Roberts-Smith’s legal dramas have continued, with the Australian Federal Police and war crimes investigators being granted access to restricted documents in his failed defamation case as he is investigated over allegations he broke the rules of engagement in Afghanistan.
the defamation case, brought by Mr Robers-Smith centred on six articles by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times in which he was not named.
Federal Court Justice Anthony Besanko ruled some of the imputations against Mr Roberts-Smith were substantially true and dismissed the case.
The case is thought to have cost more than $25m in legal fees.
Mr Roberts-Smith has launched an appeal of Justice Besanko’s decision that will be heard over two weeks in February.