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‘My son’s death is Germany’s Stephen Lawrence case’ - Golders Green mother continues fight for justice

Erica Duggan. Picture: Polly Hancock. Erica Duggan. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
5:00 PM

The mother of a Golders Green student who died mysteriously in Germany in 2003 has accused the country’s legal authorities of institutional racism and described her son’s death as the “Stephen Lawrence case in Germany”.

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"My son was British and a Jew and that’s why he died but they don’t want to see it. As with the Stephen Lawrence case, they didn’t see it as a racist murder"

Erica Duggan

Lawyers representing Erica Duggan have issued a legal complaint accusing German prosecutors of flouting a 2012 court order to re-open the investigation into the death of her 22-year-old son Jeremiah.

Ms Duggan insists the authorities have failed to properly investigate what happened to her son, a Jewish student who was found lying in a road near the German city of Wiesbaden with fatal head injuries in 2003, and believes they are covering up the truth.

German authorities ruled that Jeremiah had committed suicide by running into oncoming traffic but Ms Duggan is convinced her son came to harm at the hands of a cult suspected of fascist and anti-Semitic beliefs.

“It’s the Stephen Lawrence case in Germany,” she said. “They have a mindset in which they do not see this. My son was British and a Jew and that’s why he died but they don’t want to see it.

“As with the Stephen Lawrence case, they didn’t see it as a racist murder.”

At the time of his death, Jeremiah was a student in Paris and had travelled to Germany for an anti-war conference organised by international political movement LaRouche.

Ms Duggan, a retired teacher whose family fled the Nazis in the 1930s, believes Jeremiah came to harm after becoming aware of the cult’s anti-Semitic views and challenging them.

The night of his death she received a chilling final phone call from her son.

“It was quite clear he was in great danger, he was so terrified he couldn’t speak,” said Ms Duggan.

“He suddenly shouted out, ‘I want to see you now, this minute’, as if his life was at threat and I said, ‘I love you’, because he sounded in great danger.

“I asked him where he was and he started spelling out Wiesbaden but then the phone was cut.”

In November 2003, coroner Dr William Dolman recorded a narrative verdict after an inquest, ruling out suicide and concluding Jeremiah was in a “state of terror” when he died.

A new inquest was ordered by the High Court in 2010 after Ms Duggan obtained fresh evidence from a number of experts which indicated Jeremiah was not struck by any cars but was placed in the road and sustained head injuries elsewhere.

In the light of further new evidence contradicting the German police’s suicide verdict, the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt, Germany, ordered a re-investigation of the death in December 2012, which Ms Duggan insists has been largely ignored.

Next Wednesday she will attend the latest in a series of pre-inquest hearings conducted by coroner Andrew Walker at Barnet Coroners’ Court, which she believes is her “last hope” for justice.

“The fact is, there is no justice in Germany, I have found that out,” she said. “My last hope is Andrew Walker and to have an inquest.

“It will be a form of justice for me to be able to speak out and acknowledge what has happened. Now I no longer believe that Germany has an intention to investigate this.

“As things stand Jeremiah’s life has not been seen as important and that’s a terrible hurt. He’s just been destroyed and no one thinks it matters.”

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