The mother of a British student whose body was found on a German road broke down today as she told a court of her 11-year struggle to understand how he died.
Erica Duggan’s 22-year-old son Jeremiah, from north London, is said to have died after attending a youth event organized by the far-right, “cult like” LaRouche group in March 2003.
The German police concluded that his death was “a suicide by means of a traffic accident”.
But the Jewish student’s family have never accepted that ruling and in May 2010 the High Court ordered a fresh UK inquest after judges said evidence of possible “foul play” must be investigated.
Today, Mrs Duggan fought back tears as she criticised a new investigation launched by German authorities into the case in 2012.
She claimed there was “nothing but institutional racism” in the country, accused police there of destroying evidence and said it was “as bad as the Stephen Lawrence case”.
Giving evidence at a pre-inquest review, she told coroner Andrew Walker: “We are back 11 years sitting in that police station waiting for them to investigate. Nothing has changed.
“What does it do to my children and my family? It means that I sit in front of the computer. I don’t have time for my mother. I actually feel after 11 years I want this to be done with. I’m sure my son doesn’t want us to go on suffering with it.”
She told North London Coroner’s Court: “There is nothing but institutional racism in Germany and it’s as bad as the Stephen Lawrence case.
“All I want is a proper investigation in Germany.”
Mr Duggan, from Golders Green, was in a “state of terror” before he was found dead on the autobahn near Wiesbaden, a coroner said at the first inquest into his death in 2003.
A student at the British Institute and the Sorbonne in Paris, he had believed he was going to a conference concerning the problems in Iraq.
Four years ago, two High Court judges ordered a new inquest, saying fresh evidence asserted the death may have occurred elsewhere and the accident “stage managed” to look like a road accident.
On that occasion it was alleged that one member of the LaRouche movement had told his mother: “We have hunted him down… it is right that he is dead, he is a traitor and a spy.”
Jeremy Hyam, the Duggan family’s lawyer, said today that there was an order to reopen a previous investigation in Germany after a court in Hesse “concluded that the facts as found by the prosecutor appeared to be impossible in the light of the evidence available”.
But Mrs Duggan has filed a complaint about the conduct of the new investigation, the court heard.
Called to give evidence, she claimed there was an “unwillingness” to investigate in the first probe into her son’s death.
When the new investigation was opened in 2012, she said they were more hopeful.
She said: “We thought this is a whole different world. Now the justice system in Germany is going to work.”
But she continued: “What we found out was that they went back to the same police officer.
“After 11 years they go back to the same policeman who in my mind destroyed evidence. We asked for the clothes and shoes and they were destroyed. We asked for the phone call to be traced and it wasn’t.”
Mr Walker indicated that a full, three-day inquest would be held in February next year.
Mrs Duggan and her supporters plan to take a letter addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel setting out her concerns about how the case was handled to the country’s embassy in London later today.