Belgium under the spell of dead student, who died after severe hazing

They forced him to drink a litre of gin and a lot of beer. When he was almost unconscious, they pissed on him. Then he was put to bed, but all the taps in his student room were taped so he couldn’t drink water.

And then the most terrible day of Sanda Dia’s life still had to begin. The next day, which would be fatal for him.

The question that is now occupying Belgium is: can the eighteen boys who were involved in the hazing of Dia at the end of 2018 be prosecuted? And perhaps even more important: if it can be done, will it be done? Or will the good contacts of student dispute Reuzegom protect the boys from prosecution?

Correspondent Thomas Spekschoor went to the place where the hazing took place:

Sanda Dia was already a third-year student when he wanted to become a member of Reuzegom. He studied engineering in Leuven and had an extensive circle of friends in the vicinity of Antwerp. These friends find it incomprehensible that Dia in particular wanted to join such an elitist dispute as Reuzegom.

Elite of Flanders

Giant Bombs deliver the elite of Flanders. After Dia’s death, the former membership lists can no longer be found on the internet, but there are judges, lawyers and top people from the business world. Just as in the Netherlands the corps guarantees good contacts in the future, so are Reuzegom and other ‘student circles’ in Flanders. And Reuzegom is much smaller than an association like Vindicat. About 20 students are members, so the ties are close.

Such an elitist association is often accompanied by extreme hazing, but the Giant Bumblebees made it very colourful. Ground mice eat, drink alcohol to unconsciousness and suffer a lot of cold. In the run-up to the hazing of Dia, one of the members had promised to make this year “a disturbed brute year”.

“Disturbed brute year

More and more details about that disturbed brutal year have been published in Flemish newspapers in recent weeks. Dia and his two fellow students had to bite off the head of a living eel, they had to swim for a long time through an ice-cold ditch and even swim underneath while it was only 6 degrees Celsius outside and they had to drink a lot of fish oil while they were already largely dehydrated.

Besides, Dia was racist. The manager of a student cafรฉ was there when he was called repeatedly with the word ‘negro’. The boys would also have said that ‘blacks should work for whites’.

Prosecution or not?

Dia died a few days after his hazing in the hospital in Antwerp. It is clear that his death was a direct result of the hazing, but the question is whether there will also be prosecution. The University of Leuven did almost nothing. A few of Reuzegom’s members had to carry out community service and write an essay on student dejuvenation. They were all able to continue studying.

The high school friends of Dia fear that the good contacts of the Giant Bombs could stand in the way of persecution. The lawyer of Dia’s family even states that he can hardly find a neutral court in Flanders. A link with Giant Bombs can be found everywhere.

But the defense attorneys also complain. The Giant Bums have already been convicted, they say, even before there has been a trial. The police report is in the hands of almost all newspapers, while that is not allowed.

Today would be the first hearing, where it would be decided whether the students involved would be prosecuted, but it was immediately postponed. The lawyers of the defense first want more investigation. That could take months. In December, it will already be two years since Dia died, but the chance that those involved will have appeared in court is very small.