A fresh investigation into the bizarre and unexplained death of a British student who had become involved with a political cult in Germany has been ruled out by prosecuting authorities in Wiesbaden.
The decision is a devastating blow to the family of Jeremiah Duggan, 22, who have maintained since his death two years ago that the decision of the German police that their son committed suicide by jumping in front of cars on a dual carriageway was wrong and based on inadequate inquiries.
The family believe Mr Duggan’s involvement with the Wiesbaden-based followers of Lyndon LaRouche, a right-wing American millionaire and conspiracy theorist who has been accused of running a political cult with anti-Semitic views, holds the key to his death. They believe their son may have been victimised because he was Jewish and wanted to leave the gathering of cult followers he had been attending.
Erica Duggan, from Golders Green in north London, who has led the campaign for a new investigation, said the family would pursue the case through the European Court. They are due to meet the Foreign Office minister Baroness Symons on Tuesday in an attempt to get the Government to bring pressure on the Germans.
She said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the German authorities have refused a full inquiry despite all the evidence that points to this being more than suicide.
“There are many aspects of Jeremiah’s death which cause the greatest concern to myself and my family and which need to be brought to light.”
She added: “The German authorities have been in breach of their obligations under the Human Rights Act to investigate and we intend to bring a case to make them act. I have a right to find out what happened to my son. It remains a mystery why the German authorities are so opposed to an investigation which would be routine in this country for even an ordinary death on the roads, let alone one with this background.”
The decision of the Wiesbaden prosecutor’s office – which has been considering a file of new evidence compiled by the family and their lawyers since January – was conveyed to the Duggans on Thursday through their German lawyer. A full written decision will follow. The initial inquiry by German police was based only on interviews with the drivers at the scene and did not examine other matters, such as where Mr Duggan had been that evening. Under German law, a full police investigation into a death is not required if the evidence suggests it is suicide.
At the inquest in London in autumn 2003, the north London coroner, William Dolman, said the suicide decision was unsupported in a case with many “unanswered questions”, and Mr Duggan was in a “state of terror” when he died. The Duggans believe the coroner should have ordered a British police inquiry on the same principle that an investigation is being conducted into the death of the Princess of Wales.
Her son became involved with LaRouche’s followers while studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, He believed they shared his opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq. He died in March 2003 at Wiesbaden, where he had spent the previous days at a conference and “youth cadre” meeting. Shortly before he died Mr Duggan made distressed phone calls to both his mother and his girlfriend, telling them he was frightened and wanted to leave the conference.