18 Belgian students guilty for their role in a deadly hazing ritual
Eighteen Belgian students have been found guilty for their role in the 2018 death of a freshman in a brutal and degrading initiation ritual
BRUSSELS — Eighteen Belgian students were found guilty on Friday for their role in the 2018 death of a first-year university student in a brutal and degrading initiation ritual and were sentenced to community service and almonds.
Sanda Dia was 20 when he died in a hospital in December 2018 after he and two other freshmen endured two days of vicious hazing to get into an elite student fraternity, Reuzegom.
Dia was forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol and fish oil, and forced to sit in freezing water before collapsing.
The students were found guilty of their role in Dia’s unintentional death and degrading treatment, but were acquitted of intentionally administering noxious substances resulting in death and willful neglect, the court’s spokeswoman said, Judge Els De Brauwer.
The students were given sentences of up to 300 hours of community service and a fine of 400 euros each. The prosecution had requested sentences of up to 50 months in prison for some of them.
The high salt content of fish oil was a big factor in Dia’s death and the court ruled the students could not have been aware of the potentially deadly impact on the freshman. De Brauwer said once the students realized the seriousness of his condition, they tried to help him and take him to the hospital.
The other two students remained critically ill but their hazing was not part of the court case.
De Brauwer said the 18 people who took part in the hazing were guilty because “they were all there. Nobody put an end to it. Nobody questioned it. »
In the wake of Dia’s death, Belgian universities sought to ensure that fall initiation rituals for freshmen would be less demeaning.