Wrong body sent home
The body of the first Australian soldier to be killed in Iraq was scheduled to arrive in Melbourne this morning, but in what the Defence Department said is a "terrible mistake", the wrong body has been returned.
The body of Private Jake Kovco is due to be given a service in Gippsland with full military honours, but the coffin that arrived in Melbourne this morning contained the wrong body.
The 25-year-old private accidentally shot himself while cleaning his weapon in Baghdad on Friday.
He was a member of the 110-strong security detachment in Iraq's capital to protect Australian officials.
The Defence Department said the return of Private Kovco's body to Australia "has been delayed".
It said in a statement that an error occurred in Kuwait and the incorrect casket was despatched.
The department said Private Kovco's body will be flown to Australia immediately, by private charter if necessary.
It said the cause of "this unacceptable, terrible mistake" will be the subject of a thorough investigation, and "no stone will be left unturned" to get to the bottom of the mix-up.