Belgian students face trial over hazing death of black colleague
Eighteen members of a Belgian college fraternity will go on trial over the death of a black colleague during a two-day hazing ritual in 2018, prosecutors said Thursday.
ighteen members of a Belgian college fraternity will go on trial over the death of a black colleague during a two-day hazing ritual in 2018, prosecutors said Thursday.
Sanda Dia, then 20, suffered hypothermia and a cerebral oedema after ingesting a large quantity of alcohol and a salty cocktail laced with fish oil then collapsing in an icy pond.
The student, whose father came from west Africa, underwent the ritual humiliation on December 4 and 5, 2018 as a form of initiation to Reuzegom, a Flemish fraternity of the university of Antwerp.
He died after spending two days with the group in Leuven and a cabin in woods outside Vorselaar.
A spokeswoman for the Limburg prosecutors office told AFP that 18 members of the now dissolved group would face a court trial. They have 15 days to appeal this decision.
The charges include negligent homicide, degrading treatment, criminal negligence and deliberate administration of harmful substances leading to death.
The referral to the criminal court is “a relief for the family”, Sven Mary, the lawyer for Dia’s father, told AFP.
“It’s been a year that has seen the defence lawyers trying to buy time by any means,” he said, anticipating an appeal against Thursday’s decision.
But he nevertheless said he expected “an introductory hearing before the criminal court at the beginning of November”.
Dia’s death was a scandal in Flanders and anti-racist groups mobilised to demand justice for the young engineer, who alleged that the extremity of his treatment was based on prejudice.