Saturday, July 08, 2006

My enquiry into Kovco and Sinanovic's head injuries

It looks like the Australian government has accidentally revealed what it was trying to cover up. Apart from their bodies being accidentally swapped in a Kuwait mortuary, Kovco and Sinanovic both had head injuries. Head injuries that were being kept under wraps in a civilian mortuary instead of in the usual US military morgue.

What seems to have happened, so far:

A deliberate effort to prevent Private Kovco's death from making the headlines "at home" failed. Private Kovco's body was supposed to have arrived back in Australia, in a hurry, before the press heard about it. The use of a civilian mortuary for processing non-civilian bodies with head injuries may be off the record standard practice.

Brigadier Cosson found the army had tried to get the body home too quickly. read more

Normally, apparently, a foreign cadaver in Iraq would take eight days to return home. Australia, the defense force enquiry says, planned on having Private Kovco back within four. The enquiry line is that this was "to meet the wishes of Private Kovco's family".

Except that Private Kovco's family say they were complying with the army's wishes. Blaming the family for the Australian government's political desire to rush an Iraq war body home and there-by avoid the Anzac day press, is low. Military families rarely question the letter of the law and it seems the Australian defense force had been hoping to take advantage of just that.

A dog ate our tag

Defense association excuses get worse, and reveal more.

"It was a badly lit morgue, the digger in question was emotionally affected, the surname of both Private Kovco and the Bosnian fellow are not dissimilar, they both had head injuries".

An Australian defense association spokes-person explaining, to the ABC, how one rushed home body got mixed up with another rushed home body.

1. "It was a badly lit morgue".

Defense forces are armed with torches, are they not?

2. "The digger in question was emotionally affected".

The platoon sergeant in question was private Kovco's platoon sergeant. Emotional or otherwise, a platoon sergeant should be able to recognise his privates and a digger should be able to recognise his mate. Unless the platoon sergeant was not that familiar with his privates, and not that emotional. Or, unless the mate a digger is trying to recognise has died from a point blank shot in the head. A point blank shot in the head rendering facial features somewhat unrecognisable. Point blank shots in the head are generally self applied.

In any case, blaming "the digger" for a military stuff-up shows poor form on the part of the defense association.

3. "The surname of both Private Kovco and the Bosnian fellow are not dissimilar".

Private Kovco's surname is Kovco. The surname of the contractor he was mixed up with is Sinanovic. Suggesting the two names are not dissimilar is akin to suggesting Schmidt and Bernstein are similiar on the basis of being spelt with an s and a t. That "Kovco" and "Sinanovic" are supposed to be not dissimilar and therefore somehow are a contributing factor in a body mix-up makes the co-alition look very very stupid, very very racist, and very very bad at making up excuses. Kovco starts with a K. Sinanovic starts with an S. The only consonant these two names have in common is "v".

4. "They both had head injuries."

Kovco and Sinanovic both had head injuries. And therein lies one coincidence too many. Presumably Sinanovic's head injury was the cause of Sinanovic's death, as was Kovco's. I wonder, how did Sinanovic's head injury happen. Are privates and contractors wearing their helmets to work? Or was Sinanovic, like Kovco, shot in his room, when he had his head gear off.

The mortuary

The defense force enquiry seems to be suggesting that Australia used an independent civilian mortuary, instead of the usual military mortuary, to speed up the usual eight day return. As if this was some sort of deviation from standard practice. Yet there was another body from another country, of a man working as a contractor for Halliburton, also with a head injury, being kept in the same independent mortuary. Is this a mortuary that is regularly used, to speed home bodies of soldiers and contractors with head injuries?

Juso Sinanovic's head injury

The Australian defense force enquiry into the swapping of Private Kovco's body with Halliburton carpenter Juso Sinanovic's, states that Juso Sinanovic's body had a head injury and suggests that the similarity between Kovco and Sinanovic's injuries contributed to the mixing up of their bodies. Yet a May 12 ABC transcript states that Juso Sinanovic died of a "brain haemorrhage". A brain haemorrhage is sometimes used to refer to a type of stroke that accounts for less then 15 percent of stroke cases. A brain haemorrhage of this type rarely leaves visible outside lesions or marks on the head that might resemble a bullet hole. In it's simplest form, a haemorrhage is the rupturing of blood vessels. I guess at a stretch a bullet wound could be said to cause haemorrhaging, but it is a descriptive stretch in determining a cause of death. Questions remain, was Sinanovic's haemorrhage the same kind of haemorrhage as Kovco's, if it was then why was it not described as a gun-shot injury and if it wasn't then how could it have contributed to the bodies being mistaken one for the other.

Why the defense force tried to cover it up

Private Kovco died from a head-injury when his own gun discharged in his barracks during an unpopular war. The first known Australian Iraq War defense casualty, he couldn't have died in a less heroic manner.

"Private shot with own gun". A far cry from the usual national roll out, when Australia's Anzac day parade goes to print.

It doesn't take much of a conspiracy theorist to understand that getting Kovco's body back quickly to avoid the press as Anzac day approached, would be a pretty high priority. Unfortunately it was all just too rushed.

On April 27, two days after Anzac day, Private Kovco's mother told The Age that her son's body got mixed up on the way home from Iraq. At the time, she said, with justified anger; "I have shut up for the army... we have shut up and we let the army handle it".

Had the bodies not been accidentally swapped, everything may have passed quietly for the army as planned. Kovco's body would have been cremated or buried and another Anzac day parade would have passed without reality hanging over it to remind everyone that once apon a time, Anzac day was a reminder of how crap war is.

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