Jeremiah Duggan: it was “no suicide”

November 05, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is an update to my dispatch from Monday ("Inquest opens tomorrow into the death of Jeremiah Duggan")

The German verdict on his death has been overruled by the British coroner. Jeremiah (Jerry) Duggan's family alleges he was murdered in an anti-Semitic hate crime after he attended an anti-Iraq war rally in March in Germany, and that both the German and British police have refused to investigate this. I am sending this dispatch in part, on behalf of Jeremiah's mother, who is a long-time subscriber to this email list.

I attach two articles from today's British newspapers.

-- Tom Gross




British student did not commit suicide, says coroner
German verdict on death dismissed at UK inquest
By Hugh Muir
The Guardian
November 5, 2003

An investigation into the death of a British student in Germany took a dramatic twist yesterday as a London coroner rejected the police conclusion that it was suicide.

After reading documents supplied by the family of Jeremiah Duggan, Dr William Dolman dismissed the finding of the German authorities that the 22-year-old had taken his own life by running into the path of two speeding vehicles. The student suffered massive head injuries after the collision in Wiesbaden, western Germany, in March.

Mr Dolman is now considering whether to adjourn the hearing and demand that the Germans investigate properly.

Mr Duggan, who was Jewish, died after attending a meeting of the Schiller Institute, a rightwing political group which was described in court by his family as a "dangerous and political cult with strong anti-semitic tendencies, known to have a history of intimidation and terror tactics".

The Guardian revealed in July how Mr Duggan travelled to Germany from Paris, where he was studying, because he shared the institute's stance against the war with Iraq.

Yesterday's inquest at Hornsey coroner's court, north London, heard that 45 minutes before he died, Mr Duggan made a 4am telephone call to his mother, terrified and pleading with her to help him. He had no history of mental illness and gave no indication that he might harm himself.

Dr Dolman read out a German police document which concluded: "Jeremiah Duggan ran into the road with suicidal intent." Turning to the victim's family, he said: "Having weighed up all the evidence, I clearly reject that opinion."

Mr Duggan's mother, Erica, welcomed the coroner's statement. "It really opens up the door for the Germans to immediately investigate Jeremiah's death," she said. "They have a moral responsibility."

Earlier Mrs Duggan, 57, of Golders Green, north London, told the coroner her son had travelled to Germany on March 21 with Benoit Chalifoux, who edited the French edition of the Schiller Institute newspaper. Mr Duggan had described the institute as "very extreme", but claimed it had "solutions to problems he was worried about", she said.

Among the speakers at the meeting was Lyndon LaRouche, Schiller's leader who has been condemned by Jewish organisations as an anti-semite. He served five years of a sentence for fraud and conspiracy.

Mr Duggan, who was un aware of that history, suggested in telephone calls to his parents and his French girlfriend, Maya Villanueva, that he found the lectures stimulating. However, he is known to have challenged anti-semitic statements and told the group he was Jewish.

The first indication that he was in difficulty came when he telephoned his mother on March 27. "He said, 'Mum I am in deep trouble'," Mrs Duggan recalled. "It was in a quiet voice and I thought perhaps he was being overheard."

The line went dead, but he rang back immediately. "The first thing he said was, 'I am frightened'. He said very loudly 'I want to see you now'." As he tried to tell her where he was, the phone went dead again.

The inquest heard that the German police investigation had relied on accounts from Schiller Institute officials and supporters, but that many of these were untrue. No statement was taken from Mr Duggan's roommate in Germany, Sebastian Drochon, and some evidence was missing.

Throughout the controversy, the institute has insisted that its meeting had no rightwing speakers, and that Mr Duggan's death was unrelated.

The hearing continues tomorrow.



Coroner denounces cult suicide claim
By Terry Kirby, Chief Reporter
The Independent
November 5, 2003

A coroner yesterday rejected a report by German police that a British student who died while apparently fleeing a political cult had committed suicide.

Jeremiah Duggan, 22, from north London, died in March after being struck by two cars on a dual carriageway outside Wiesbaden. He had been attending a anti-Iraq war conference set up by the Schiller Institute, which is led by Lyndon La Rouche, an American right-wing conspiracy theorist.

According to an internal Metropolitan Police report submitted to the coroner, Mr La Rouche's organisation has "sinister and dangerous connections", preaches anti-Semitic views - including blaming Jewish people for the Iraq conflict - and uses "physical and mental manipulation" to coerce young recruits.

The north London coroner, Dr William Dolman, heard that Mr Duggan, who was Jewish and was studying French in Paris, had become involved with Nouvelle Solidarite, a newspaper published in France by Mr La Rouche, because it shared his opposition to the looming Iraq conflict.

During the week the war began, he agreed to attend the conference in Wiesbaden. His mother, Erica Duggan, said he telephoned her from Wiesbaden at about 4.20am on 27 March. He told her: "Mum. I'm in deep trouble." He said he was frightened and "wanted out" and needed to see her as soon as possible. As he was telling her his location, the line went dead. "He seemed terrified and in fear of his life," she said. Mr Duggan was found dead on the roadside about 40 minutes later.

After reading sections of the German police report to the inquest, including its conclusion that Mr Duggan had "run into the road with suicidal intent", the coroner said: "I reject that as an opinion."

He adjourned the inquest until tomorrow when he will rule whether to continue or seek more information from the German authorities.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.