Friday, April 28, 2006

How did this soldier die?

IT takes extraordinary effort for a Browning 9mm pistol to go off by itself. Just how Private Jacob Kovco's pistol discharged last Friday, killing him with a shot to the head, was shrouded in mystery last night.

The Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, said in an earlier statement that Private Kovco was cleaning his weapon when it fired. The Defence Minister was also forced to conjure some sort of excuse for sending the wrong body home.

I’ve been sitting on my own thoughts on the first Australian military death in Iraq. There is something about the incident which just doesn’t ring true.

Kovco was a country kid who had been around guns all his life. He was an expert hunter and became the country’s foremost sniper in Iraq.

He has probably cleaned more guns than most of us have had hot breakfasts. But here he is, in a room with two other soldiers who heard, but did not see, the gun go off; Kovco accidently shoots himself in the head.

It turns out that he was not cleaning the gun, as first reported to the military, it was "near him in his vicinity". The story now is that some movement he made triggered the deadly shot.

The Federal Government and the military still maintain the two soldiers in the room with Private Kovco at the time did not see the weapon discharge.

Okay, my thoughts are mere speculation and I’m not really convinced that they deserve airing at this point. There will be a clamour for the real facts of this incident and one would hope truth, unsavoury or otherwise will come out. But one fact is clear, Kovko did not simply bump a gun and shoot himself in the head!


Kovco’s mother, Judy, fears that there would be a cover-up over her son's death. "I want the truth and it's not coming out and they will do one big cover-up because they want more boys to go over there and they don't want Australia's perfect record of no boys being killed in battle - of any boys being killed in battle. It doesn't take a lot to work out what's going down here."Mrs Kovco said the Australian Defence Force and the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, had allowed a notion to gather momentum that her son - who grew up using guns - had managed to shoot himself accidentally while handling his pistol.

"You could have put a blindfold on him," Mrs Kovco said. "He could dismantle a gun and put it together again without even looking at it. We kept saying, 'There's no way. There's no way."'

Link Furious mother accuses army of cover-up on shooting

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