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KU Leuven hazing death suspect will appeal suspension

Sanda Dia, victim of a fatal hazing ritual. © Twitter

One of the seven youths suspended by the university of Leuven in connection with their part in the hazing death of fellow student Sanda Dia in December 2018 is to appeal the decision, his lawyer said.

This week the university said it would suspend seven of the suspects in the case, in some cases permanently. The seven were members of the student group known as Reuzegom, which Sanda and others had applied to join.

As part of the initiation ritual, they were forced to drink large quantities of alcohol as well as fish sauce, and made to sit for hours in a pool of freezing water.

Sanda became unwell, and was taken to hospital, where he died later. On arrival his body temperature had sunk to 27°C, and he had a high levels of salt in his blood as a result of consuming the fish sauce.

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The university sanctioned those involved, ordering them to write a paper on initiation rites, and making them do 30 hours of community work.

After pressure from a group of academics and university staff concerned that the sanction was too light, the university suspended seven of those concerned for a year or more.

In some cases, that will prevent the student graduating. However critics have also pointed out that the university could have taken action against more than seven culprits, if it had acted sooner, before many of them left the university and are now out of reach of its discipline.

Of those that remain, one is to appeal.

We have initiated summary proceedings before the court in Leuven,” said lawyer Johan Platteau.

We lost that case, but we intend to appeal.”

He added that the final objective is to be able to register his client again at the university. “The penalty is very heavy, especially considering the fact that my client had his diploma in sight. He has now been suspended is told that he will never have his diploma.”

In the meantime, a criminal investigation is under way.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times