Crikey reporter Sophie Black writes:

The public inquiry
into the death of Private Jake Kovco exploded in Sydney this morning –
revealing the exact circumstances of Kovco’s death and the startling
revelation that Kovco dreamt about his own death a month before it
actually happened.

Kovco died of a single gunshot wound to the
head while in his barracks in Baghdad on 21 April. Senior counsel
assisting the board of inquiry, Colonel Michael Griffin, revealed in
his opening statement this morning that Private Kovco chronicled the
disturbing premonitory dream in his personal journal.

The exact circumstances of Kovco’s death were clouded in misinformation and then lost in the subsequent debacle in which the wrong body was sent home to Australia, leading Kovco’s mother Judy to accuse the military of a cover-up.

But AAP isreporting
that the inquiry, at which Pte Kovco’s widow Shelley, his mother Judy
and father Martin were present, heard this extremely detailed account
of exactly how Private Kovco died from Colonel Griffin, via a video
link from the Australian National Headquarters in Baghdad:

Kovco was in his barracks with two roommates on the
afternoon of April 21 after coming off duty at the Australian embassy
in Baghdad. Pte Kovco’s gun was hanging in its holster at the end of
his bunk bed while he stood on the ground, checking emails on his
laptop computer, which was perched on the top bunk. One of his
roommates sat opposite on another bed using his laptop while a third
soldier was listening to his iPod, and playing songs for all three men
to sing along to. Col Griffin said Pte Kovco was checking emails from
his wife about a camera he had sent her at their home in Victoria and
the soldier appeared to be “his usual happy self”. At some stage, the
colonel said, the soldier listening to the iPod moved around Pte Kovco
to get a drink from the room’s bar fridge.

It was then
that a shot rang out, according to Col Griffin, and the soldier sitting
opposite saw Kovco fall to the ground. Neither of the soldiers saw the
gun go off, but they raised the alarm and tried to stop the bleeding
from the soldier’s head. According to Col Griffin, the shot was fired
no more than 5cm from the right-hand side of Pte Kovco’s head, near his
right ear. The shot rendered him unconscious immediately, and he later
died at a nearby military hospital.

Col Griffin then said that
details of Kovco’s dream were recorded in his personal journal. “You
will hear evidence exactly one calendar month before he died, Pte Jacob
Kovco had a dream about his own death in almost the precise
circumstances I have described.”

The hearing is expected to
run for most of this week before adjourning so that the board can
consider scientific evidence collected by the NSW Coroner, who is also
investigating Pte Kovco’s death.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey