German police probe into British student’s death was ‘inadequate’

German police files have exposed flaws in their own investigation into the mysterious death of a British student. Jeremiah Duggan, from Golders Green in north London, died last March in Wiesbaden after allegedly running into the path of two vehicles.

Mr Duggan, who was Jewish, had travelled to Germany to attend what he thought was an anti-war conference before discovering that the groups he had joined, the Schiller Institute and its associated newspaper, Nouvelle Solidarité, were run by the American Lyndon LaRouche, a convicted fraudster with a history of anti-Semitism.

The German police decided that his subsequent death was suicide, but an inquest in London last week said that such a verdict was “impossible”.

The Telegraph has obtained a copy of the German police’s report into Mr Duggan’s death. It reveals a number of errors, assumptions and contradictions that suggest an inadequate investigation into a suspicious death.

It also shows that the police took no official signed statements from witnesses, failed to carry out an autopsy and decided within hours that Mr Duggan had committed suicide by throwing himself in front of the vehicles.

The report gives only a cursory account of the version of events given to the police – one which conflicts with that given by Mr Duggan’s family. Evidence from witnesses is recorded as brief, sometimes contradictory, notes.

The LaRouche political organisation, which includes the Schiller Institute, is alleged to pressure young people to embrace theories about a Jewish-American conspiracy to take over the world.

Mr Duggan, 22, who had been studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, discovered the group leader’s anti-Semitic background while in Germany and publicly declared his Jewish ethnicity. Mr Duggan, known as Jerry to his family, fled on foot in the early hours of March 27 from the property where he was staying with members of the group.

At 4.20am he made a frantic call to his girlfriend, Maya, in Paris, saying he was “under too much pressure” and wanted to come home. Just over an hour later he called his mother.

He said: “Mum, I’m in big trouble. I’m frightened, I want to see you now.” She asked him where he was. As he began to spell out the name of Wiesbaden, the line was cut off.

Forty-six minutes later he was dead, having been knocked down on Wiesbaden’s Berliner Strasse by a Peugeot car before being run over and killed instantly by another vehicle.

After his call Mrs Duggan, 58, telephoned the British police and, later that morning, she rang the mobile phone of Sebastien Drochon, another of the Nouvelle Solidarité colleagues whom her son had met for the first time at the conference.

Mr Drochon had already calledMaya hours earlier to say that Mr Duggan had disappeared but when his mother rang he handed the phone to Ortrun Kramer, the managing director of the Schiller Institute, because he does not speak English.

Mrs Duggan told her how frightened her son had been, at which point Ms Kramer said Nouvelle Solidarité was a “news agency” and did not take responsibility for the actions of individuals.

Three minutes later Mrs Duggan called back and Ms Kramer told her: “Jeremiah had psychological problems.” Mrs Duggan denied her son had any such illness. Ms Kramer said she would ring the hospitals to find out if he had been admitted.

Telephone records show that the phone call ended at 11.07am German time. About three minutes later, according to one report entry, Ms Kramer, with Mr Drochon and another leading activist, presented herself at the Wiesbaden police station with Mr Duggan’s passport, his bag and rucksack.

In an apparent contradiction, another reference states that Ms Kramer actually reported to police by telephone. Mr Duggan’s father, Hugo, 60, said: “Because there are no witness statements, it is impossible to know which is the true version of events. It is disturbing, to say the least.”

According to the police report, Ms Kramer said that she had received a call on the morning of Mr Duggan’s death from his mother, who was concerned about him “since he had severe asthma and was not getting in touch with her”. Mrs Duggan later denied this, saying that her son had not had asthma since childhood.

Elsewhere in the report, Mr Drochon recounted how he had been staying in an apartment with Mr Duggan and another activist named Jean-Adrien. He claimed that Mr Duggan phoned his girlfriend and mother before going outside for a cigarette and then inexplicably ran off at 5.15am.

Telephone records show, however, that he did not call his mother until nine minutes later. It is unclear whether it is Mr Drochon’s memory or the police report’s detailing of it that is incorrect.

For Officer Schächer, of the Wiesbaden police, who compiled the report, there was enough evidence to draw a conclusion as to what happened. He wrote: “There is no doubt that Jeremiah Duggan ran on to the road with the intention of committing suicide.”

He added: “No concrete reason for his suicide could be determined, although there are no suggestions as to the involvement of another person. No post mortem is deemed necessary.” Mr Duggan’s clothes were allowed to be destroyed and the file on the case was closed.

Leslie Thomas, the Duggan family’s barrister, said last week that the refusal of Dr William Dolman, the Hornsey coroner, to accept that Jeremiah’s death was suicide “sends a clear message to the German authorities that their investigation into the sudden and unexpected death of Jeremiah Duggan is totally inadequate. Jeremiah Duggan died in very suspicious circumstances. These call for a full and proper investigation”.


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The Guardian, USA
Nov. 9, 2003
Daniel Foggo
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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday November 9, 2003.
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