All 18 members of the private student club Reuzegom at the university of Leuven who were linked to the hazing of 20-year-old Sanda Dia which led to his death in 2018.
The club was known to be one of the most exclusive on the university campus, and the members allowed themselves to subject prospective members to rituals that involved beating, extreme torture including drinking fish sauce and excessive amounts of alcohol, and physical treatment including sitting in freezing water for hours and being urinated on.
As a result of that treatment, Sanda passed out, and after much delay, the organisers of the ritual decided to take him to hospital. However instead of calling emergency service on the spot, they took him themselves first to one hospital which had no A&E facility, and then to another.
Sanda died later in hospital, from a combination of hypothermia and acute intoxication complicated by the fact of having drunk a large quantity of highly salty fish sauce.
Since the events took place, the university has taken a varying level of action. Some students were suspended and were unable to complete their degrees; others were suspended and could pick up later as normal. The Reuzegom club was officially disbanded.
Now all 18 members associated with the events of 2018 are to be sent before a court to face charges. But the process is only just beginning.
The good news for supporters of Sanda’s family is that the prosecution appears to be taking a view of ‘art and part’ on the question of culpability: namely, all of those who were associated with an event are equally and separately responsible for the outcome.
In other words, there is no distinction between ringleaders and followers: all who took part are equally culpable.
That effectively cuts off from the defence the argument that their boy (the accused are all boys, now young men) was only a bystander. All were acting in concert, the prosecution maintains, according to what was clearly a pre-programmed pattern of events.
For example, while it may be usual to organise a student event with large amounts of alcohol, the provision of a large quantity of fish sauce is not at all common.
The family of Sanda, following a number of disappointing decisions in the interim, were not in court in Hasselt to hear the decision. However, according to De Standaard, they have expressed satisfaction, and now look forward to the next step in the proceedings, currently expected for the spring of 2022.