Family devastated by body mix-up

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The mother of Australian soldier, Private Jake Kovco, has spoken of her anger at being told it was not her son's body in the casket delivered to Melbourne Airport. She says all hell broke loose when the Defence Minister Brendan Nelson told Private Kovco's wife and family that there had been a mix-up. "They've told us at some stage somebody was told it was a Bosnian in that coffin," she told The Age.

Prime Minister John Howard, speaking on Southern Cross Radio, says the family has every right to be upset. "I just want to say again how incredibly sorry I am for what has happened," he said.

Mr Howard received an angry phone call from Private Kovco's widow Shelley last night and told Southern Cross Radio he completely understands Mrs Kovco's reaction.

Judy Kovco says she is still seeking a full explanation from the Army about her son's death, she insists he did not shoot himself. Dr Nelson has told Macquarie radio that reports Private Kovco accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun are incorrect, "It was near him in his vicinity and he made some kind of movement which suggests that it discharged," he said.