Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Still Waiting for Justice for Jerry

JEREMIAH DUGGAN. A most unlikely "suicide".

IN case anyone thought we missed it, yesterday was the ninth anniversary of a most suspicious death in Germany. It was a week after the war on Iraq started, thousands of people were being killed, and here in London on March 22 hundreds of thousands of us took part in the second big Stop the War demonstration.

Like lots of other young people, Jeremiah Duggan wanted to do something about the war. The 22-year old from London was studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, and there he bought a paper called Nouvel Solidarite from an older man outside the university. When they discussed the looming war the man told him about an international youth conference against the war, being called by the Schiller Institute, in Wiesbaden.

Jeremiah was not to know that both the leftie-looking Nouvel Solidarite and the intellectually respectable-sounding Schiller Institute are linked to a man called Lyndon LaRouche, notorious in the United States, where he served time for fraud but has also been a promiscuous would-be presidential candidate. LaRouche, also known as Lyn Marcus, emerged from the "far Left" in the 1960s, but developed a cult following and reputation for organised violence against genuine left-wing parties that led to his being re-classified as a new kind of rightist.

Extending his operations to Europe, LaRouche seems to have acquired resources, producing a magazine called Executive Intelligence Review, along with an interesting line in conspiracy theory, in which beside the usual suspects like Jews there appear the Brits, with institutions from the Royal Family to the Tavistock Clinic in London engaged in doing down America.

Jeremiah must have found the conference interesting enough, and was taking full part, but he was troubled by the way some delegates seemed to be blaming the war on Jews. According to eye witnesses he rose up at one point to say "But I'm a Jew!"

Then in the early hours of March 27 he phoned his mother to say he was terrified and wanted to get out. A few hours later his body was found by a motorway on the outskirts of town. According to the evidence accepted by German police he had dashed out onto the motorway, deliberately hurling himself in the path of vehicles. They ruled it was suicide.

Jeremiah's mother, Erica Duggan, has never accepted this, and in November 2003 a north London coroner rejected the verdict, after hearing about his frightened 'phone call home, and testimony from the Metropolitan Police that the LaRouche movement was a "political cult with sinister and dangerous connections".

While the Duggan family continued to seek the truth about what happened to Jeremiah, the LaRouche organisation has been intent on maintaining the suicide theory, claiming it was nothing to do with them, and rubbishing the family. They claimed the young man was on drugs, and said his parents had attended the Tavistock Institute for counselling. They even suggested the whole affair has been got up by Tony Blair and government ministers as a diversion from the war and the death of Dr.David Kelly in suspicious circumstances.

At this rate one wonders whether they are saying Jeremiah Duggan was not a mere suicide, but a dedicated kamikaze raider sent to Wiesbaden to attack the traffic and discredit the Schiller Institute.

Meanwhile investigaters employed by the Duggans found that the police in Hesse had not really examined the vehicles which supposedly hit Jeremiah, nor taken statements from the drivers. Besides his head injuries, the young man's arms showed defensive injuries such as might be sustained by someone trying to shield their head from a kicking, rather than bouncing off a vehicle. There was also wet sand on his jeans which was not found on the motorway. Had he been taken somewhere else, like a builder's yard say, before his body was dumped out on the motorway?

In 2010, after a prolonged legal battle, Lord Justice Elias in the High Court granted Jeremiah's mother Erica a new inquest, and said that fresh evidence showed that Jeremiah's death may have occurred elsewhere and the accident was "stage managed" to look like a road accident.In June that year an inquest was officially opened at Barnet Coroners' Court and immediately adjourned after the coroner ordered that the new material should be given to the police, with the request that they take up enquiries. But the months went by with no sign that anything was being done.

"The police are reviewing the files but they need to go to Germany to find the answers to questions which have been tormenting us, " Erica Duggan told the Jewish Chronicle on December 2 2010. "If the police won't help us then not only have I been obstructed in Germany but I have also been let down by my own country. I think the British police are dragging their heels".

At a second inquest hearing on September 14 last year the coroner said the police had reported nothing new and the inquiries would need to be pursued by other means. The Duggan family understandably felt let down again.

Far from being encouraged to pursue her case by the British authorities, Erica Duggan complains that she has had no help whatsoever from the Foreign Office. The Duggan family and friends have also been concerned that the German police and authorities in the state of Hesse seemed to readily accept the Schiller Institute's version of events. They wonder what sort of influence the LaRouche organisation has that provide it with respectability or even protection in Germany.

Nevertheless they have continued trying to get the case reopened there. On February 22, 2012 the Wiesbaden, Hessen Senior Prosecutor declared in a legal document sent to the lawyers Saya Kaya and Christiona Noll representing Erica Duggan that the LaRouche organization is a sect and that it is known to use psychological methods. On March 7, Erica Duggan travelled to Germany where her lawyers advised "this is a break-through and it is to be hoped that this will lead to a greater effort to investigate thoroughly the unexplained death of Jeremiah Duggan."

In March 1986 Swedish police arrested Victor Gunnarsson, a former member of LaRouche's organisation, as a suspect in the assassination of Olof Palme. Gunnarsson was released, but later in turn murdered in 1993 in North Carolina by former police officer Lamont C. Underwood. Although there have been various theories and culprits found for Olof Palme's murder, no one has ever been brought to justice for it.

We don't know whether anyone will ever face justice, or even whether we will be told the truth about what happened to Jeremiah Duggan that night and early morning in Wiesbaden. Nine years have gone by and his death has still not been properly investigated.

There are many of us who, at Jeremiah Duggan's age, might have been attracted to what seemed a worthwhile cause and international event, and could just as easily have found we had stepped into something more frightening. Until the truth is known we can only wish strength to Jeremiah's mother Erica and the rest of his family and friends, and make sure his case is not forgotten.

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