Student hazing death: Hearing of Reuzegom members postponed again
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Student hazing death: Hearing of Reuzegom members postponed again

Ousmane Dia (Sanda's father), Marie Van Steenkiste and Seydou De Vel pictured at the judgement session in the case of Reuzegom students association. Credit: Belga

The hearing of the 18 members of the Reuzegom student association, who were expected to appear before the court in Hasselt on Monday afternoon for their involvement in the death of a Flemish student during hazing, has been postponed again.

The prosecutor’s office in Hasselt finalised its investigation into the death of 20-year-old student Sanda Dia in May 2021, and the club members concerned were expected in court on 7 June.

However, the lawyer of one of the members of the now-disbanded Reuzegom club asked for the hearing to be adjourned as he believes that the judge is biased. The hearing has now been moved to 28 June, according to reports from De Morgen. 

Originally, the court hearing on the possible referral of 18 members of the Reuzegom student club to the criminal court was scheduled to take place in September, however, it was postponed after several lawyers, including those who are defending members of Reuzegom, and the lawyer of animal rights organisation Gaia, asked for additional investigation, which has now been completed.

At the end of this month, the magistrate will have to decide if they must, individually or collectively, face charges and a possible ten-year prison sentence for the involuntary murder of the student and for degrading treatment, culpable negligence, and the deliberate administration of harmful substances resulting in death.

Dia, a civil engineering student, died in 2018 whilst taking part in a student baptism ceremony to join the Reuzegom club, during which he and two other students were forced to drink a brew of fish oil, in which live goldfish, mice, and an eel were mixed.

The students participating in the baptism were also forced to create and stand in a hole filled with ice-cold water, after which they were urinated on repeatedly. Dia was brought to the hospital several hours later with a body temperature of 27.2 degrees, where he later died as a result of massive organ failure.

Almost all of the parents of the Reuzegom members are successful lawyers, magistrates, and dentists who saw themselves as “the potential elite” of Flanders, according to a legal document.