A coroner yesterday rejected a report by German police that a British student who died while apparently fleeing a political cult had committed suicide.
Jeremiah Duggan, 22, from north London, died in March after being struck by two cars on a dual carriageway outside Wiesbaden. He had been attending a anti-Iraq war conference set up by the Schiller Institute, which is led by Lyndon La Rouche, an American right-wing conspiracy theorist.
According to an internal Metropolitan Police report submitted to the coroner, Mr La Rouche's organisation has "sinister and dangerous connections", preaches anti-Semitic views - including blaming Jewish people for the Iraq conflict - and uses "physical and mental manipulation" to coerce young recruits.
The north London coroner, Dr William Dolman, heard that Mr Duggan, who was Jewish and was studying French in Paris, had become involved with Nouvelle Solidarite, a newspaper published in France by Mr La Rouche, because it shared his opposition to the looming Iraq conflict.
During the week the war began, he agreed to attend the conference in Wiesbaden. His mother, Erica Duggan, said he telephoned her from Wiesbaden at about 4.20am on 27 March. He told her: "Mum. I'm in deep trouble." He said he was frightened and "wanted out" and needed to see her as soon as possible. As he was telling her his location, the line went dead. "He seemed terrified and in fear of his life," she said. Mr Duggan was found dead on the roadside about 40 minutes later.
After reading sections of the German police report to the inquest, including its conclusion that Mr Duggan had "run into the road with suicidal intent", the coroner said: "I reject that as an opinion."
He adjourned the inquest until tomorrow when he will rule whether to continue or seek more information from the German authorities.