Student fraternity members given community service and fines for their part in hazing death
The Court of Appeal in Antwerp has passed sentence on 18 members of the former student fraternity Reuzegom. The 18 were all activily involved in a hazing ceremony in which a fellow student died. The 18 were acquitted on charges of administering harmful substances and criminal negligence, but found guilty of accidental killing, degrading treatment and breaches of animal welfare legislation. The court sentenced them to between 200- and 300-hours’ community service. They were also issued with 400-euro fines and ordered to pay compensation to the family of the student that lost his life, Sanda Dia.
Sanda Dia was a 20-year-old student at Leuven University (KUL). In late 2018 he died after a hazing ritual organized by the now-defunct Reuzegom student fraternity. 18 members of the fraternity were charged with offences related to the events that led to Sanda Dia’s death.
The charges included the administration of harmful substances. During the hazing ritual Sanda Dia had drunk large quantities of fish oil in order to be able to vomit back out a live goldfish he had swallowed. The overdose of salt that came about due to the large quantity of fish oil he had consumed caused Sanda Dia to suffer a cerebral enema. This proved fatal.
The 18 also faced charges of accidental killing, degrading treatment, negligence and have breached animal welfare laws. Prosecutors had asked the court to issue prison sentences of between 18 and 50 months, fines of 8,000 euro and a suspension of those on trial’s civil rights for 5 years.
They were acquitted on the most serious charges as the court said that fish oil is readily available and there is no warning on its packaging regarding the consequences of excessive use. Furthermore, experts had said that the level at which salt intake becomes toxic is not even know by doctors. The accused were also acquitted of negligence as “As soon as they realised that Sanda Dia was in danger, they gave him the necessary help. The fact that this help came too late, does not alter this;”
The accused were convicted of animal welfare offences, degrading treatment and accidental killing.