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Widow addresses Kovco inquiry -

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Widow addresses Kovco inquiry

Broadcast: 19/09/2006

Reporter: Leigh Sales

The widow of Private Jake Kovco has addressed the military inquiry into his death on the last day
of deliberations.


TONY JONES: Well, back home, and the widow of Jake Kovco has told a military inquiry she believes
her husband's death in Iraq was a tragic mistake. But Shelley Kovco says the mistakes afterwards
were unforgivable. The investigation into Private Kovco's death wound up today, with the President
of the Board of Inquiry saying that suicide was simply not a consideration. Leigh Sales reports.

LEIGH SALES: Shelley Kovco has made this walk into the inquiry investigating her husband's death
most days for the past two and a half months. Today she did it for the last time, as the Board
finished its hearings. Mrs Kovco read a statement to the investigators, describing the heartbreak
at her husband's death and the blunders afterwards. She said the thought of this chaotic Kuwaiti
morgue looking after his body was intolerable: "To think that my husband was taken somewhere like
that is with me all the time." Shelley Kovco doesn't believe the two soldiers in the room with her
husband when he died had anything to do with it. Nor is she suspicious of the soldier on patrol
with Private Kovco that day, whose DNA is all over the weapon: "I don't believe they killed Jake or
had anything to do with his death. It was a horrible accident."

Shelley Kovco said she was deeply hurt by the publication of rumours that her husband had been
reading a 'Dear John' e mail from her which caused him to kill himself. She said that was untrue
and that they had a happy marriage.

Shelley Kovco and her parents don't believe there has been a conspiracy or cover up. That puts them
at odds with the soldier's mother, Judy Kovco, who does.

JUDY KOVCO: Enduring this inquiry, I just find this is face saving for them, for the army. This is
not about my son's death.

LEIGH SALES: In a significant development, the Board has ruled out suicide: "Suicide doesn't come
into our reasoning whatsoever," the inquiry chief told the hearing room twice today. The Board of
Inquiry will provide a report to defence leadership later this year. Leigh Sales, Lateline.