A coroner said Thursday that the suspicious death of a Jewish British student in Germany in 2003 in a traffic collision was not a suicide, as argued by German police.
Jeremish Duggan, from the Golders Green neighborhood of north London, died after attending an anti-war meeting of the LaRouche Schiller Institute in Wiesbaden. Duggan reportedly was terrorized by followers of the rightist institute after he objected to statements blaming the Iraq War on Jews and identified himself as Jewish. He was also accused of being a spy to harm the organization.
At an inquest in London more than 10 years after the incident, coroner Andrew Walker said he “totally rejected” the verdict of suicide after finding a “number of unexplained injuries” suggesting an “altercation at some stage before his death.”
German police called the death “a suicide by means of a traffic accident.”
Walker said the organization may have had a “bearing” on Duggan’s death.
Duggan’s family has been calling for an inquest since his death. A three-day inquest opened on Tuesday after Britain’s High Court in 2010 ordered the investigation to look at possible foul play in the death of the Sorbonne student.
Duggan’s mother, Erica, told the media outside the court: “I’m going to fight on, but I’m not sure I will do it through the justice system. I would like to think very hard about whether or not the kind of investigations that have gone on in Germany, and also in Britain, have led me to find out how my son really died. I know he was destroyed by the LaRouche organization.”
Walker told the court: “On March 27, 2003, in the early hours of the morning, Jeremiah Duggan, who has been attending a conference run by a far-right organization, was staying with a friend in Wiesbaden with a family.
“Having spoken to his girlfriend and his mother in alarming terms, Mr. Duggan, having asked to leave the house for a cigarette accompanied by a friend, suddenly ran from the house. The friend did not follow him.
“At about 6 a.m. the same morning, Jeremiah Duggan received fatal injuries following a collision with two cars on the Berliner Strasse and died in a road traffic collision.”
On Tuesday, an expert witness told the inquest that Duggan’s death was a “set-up.”
Forensic photographic expert Paul Canning, who studied photographs from the scene, testified that the two vehicles that German police said had hit Duggan did not show any signs of contact with the victim. He said damage to the cars in the photos was inflicted with a heavy metal object, such as another car.
Canning told the court that “the only possible conclusion is that it must have been a set-up.”
“Are you saying this was a constructed road traffic collision?” asked Coroner for north London Andrew Walker.
“It certainly looks that way, Sir,” replied Canning.
After the fatal incident, witnesses gave written statements saying they had seen Duggan jump out in front of several vehicles before being hit by a Peugot 406 and then a Volkswagen Golf, according to the German investigation.
However, Canning said there was no evidence that the cars had made contact with the student.
“After making a lengthy examination of the photographs I conclude that, in examining the scene of the accident, the road, Jeremiah’s body and both vehicles involved, I could find no traces of blood, hair, tissue or clothing on the vehicles or road, except round the immediate vicinity of Jeremiah’s body.”
Traces of a wet sandy substance on Duggan and on the vehicles, but not present at the location of the body, placed them all together somewhere else before the alleged accident.
Duggan had traveled to Germany to attend a youth event by the LaRouche movement that has been accused of harboring far-right, anti-Semitic ideology and embracing a cult-like culture. He was apparently unaware of the nature of the event or the organization behind it before he arrived. The LaRouche movement was founded by US political activist Lyndon LaRouche.
Less than an hour before he died on the road, a distraught Duggan reportedly called his mother and told her “I’m in big trouble.”
In December 2012, the German Higher Court ruled the original investigation by Wiesbaden authorities was flawed and began a new, ongoing inquiry.