Share article:
Share article:

Fatal hazing trial begins, and immediately adjourns

© Belga

The first phase of a trial of 18 members of the student association Reuzegom started and ended this week after questions were raised about the objectivity of one of the judges.

The members of the club are being accused of their part in the death of Sanda Dia, who died in December 2018 after taking part in an initiation ritual to join the student club Reuzegom. He had been forced to consume a large quantity of alcohol as well as fish sauce, and had been forced to sit in a pool of freezing water for hours as part of the ritual.

When he became unconscious the members of the club failed to call emergency services, and instead transported him to a nearby hospital which has no emergency department. They then moved on to one that did, by which time the young man was in a deep state of poisoning and hypothermia.

Sanda. Family photo

The club has since been disbanded by order of the university, and such onerous rituals banned, but those present on the night in question still have to face justice for their actions. But because the club was so highly regarded among aspiring students, it was made up of students from wealthy families, who are now able to defend their offspring with expensive lawyers and extensive delaying tactics.

The latest, produced this week, was to raise the question of whether one of the judges at the Leuven court had any connection with the Leuven university. The question may appear vexatious, but it has not been answered, and now needs to be investigated, and the sitting was suspended.

“It’s about an appearance of partiality and you have to avoid that completely in lawsuits,” said Sven Mary, representing Sanda’s family.

“I’m a little sad that there hasn’t been an answer.”

The sittings will continue on 12 October with expert testimony. If the judge in question has been replaced in the meantime, the trial can proceed. If not, the defence is likely to file for recusal. In either case, the trial proper will resume in April next year.

Latest news

Over 50,000 march against fascism in Rome
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against fascism in Rome on Saturday, one week after violent protests against the Covid certificate. Over ...
Will Brussels bounce back?
The lockdowns have tested the city and forced it to confront key questions about its future. Derek Blyth looks back at an extraordinary moment in our ...
Vaccinations: Belgium’s Health Minister currently not in favour of a general booster shot
The latest figures on new coronavirus cases are worrying, but rather than imposing new safety measures, what is needed is full compliance with ...
Thousands protest against the Covid health pass in France
Demonstrations against the health pass and other measures aimed at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus mobilised tens of thousands of protesters ...
Record-breaking 770-metre highline installed in Freÿr, Belgium
A 770-metre long highline was installed at an altitude of 70 metres at the Freÿr Rocks on Saturday, setting a new Belgian record, according to ...
Huge cannabis farm discovered inside closed down Chinese restaurant near Charleroi
A cannabis plantation with several hundred mature plants was dismantled on Friday evening in a former Chinese restaurant on Chaussée de Bruxelles ...
Citizen founded wind turbine project launched in Liège region
A citizen founded wind turbine project was inaugurated in the Liège Region on Saturday by Walloon Energy Minister Philippe Henry (Ecolo) together ...
Five questions to philosopher Philippe Van Parijs on Leopold II and embarrassment in Brussels’ public space
The worldwide explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, combined with the 60th anniversary of the ...
Belgium to invest in sustainable heating in 2022
The federal government will set aside about one million euros in its 2022 budget for a social tariff for sustainable heating, Federal Energy Minister ...
Unfinished draft of new Astérix story discovered
The discovery of the unfinished draft of a cartoon album on the most famous of all Gauls, sketched by cartoonist René Goscinny, was announced by his ...
Anti-vaxxers demonstrate against Covid Safe Ticket in Brussels
Hundreds of supporters of the anti-vaxx movement gathered on Saturday outside the headquarters of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to protest ...
Belgium’s investment funds total 260 billion euros in assets
Belgium’s funds industry grew by 5.3% (13 billion euros) in the second quarter of this year, bringing investment funds available to the public to ...