The admission ritual began, quite harmlessly, with the sale of roses in the Löwen pedestrian zone.

Sanda Dia, a student at the Catholic University, coveted entry into the “Reuzegom” student association, a small, select club.

Thirty members, they studied engineering like him or law and also came from the Antwerp region.

Her parents were dentists, lawyers, judges and politicians there - the white upper class.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

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Dia was the son of an immigrant Senegalese and a Belgian mother, with dark skin.

His father worked on the assembly line.

The student baptism should be his ticket to another world.

Thirty hours later the young man was admitted to a hospital where his body temperature was only 27 degrees, he was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and his body was acidic.

Shortly afterwards, Sanda Dia, 20 years old, died of multiple organ failure.

That was almost three years ago, and since Tuesday 18 men have had to answer in court. All are between 22 and 27 years old and were present during the ritual. The charge is negligent homicide, humiliation, failure to provide assistance and the supply of dangerous substances. If convicted, they face a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Initially, the university only imposed thirty hours of community service on the students after the crime. They also had to write a penal essay on the history of student baptisms. It was not until two years later, when the investigation was completed, that seven men were de-registered. The others had already completed their studies. In this case, therefore, it is also about a culture of looking the other way at one of the most traditional universities in Europe.

The delinquents should fall into a coma

In July 2020, the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reconstructed what happened to Sanda Dia.

Accordingly, there was a fixed script for the baptism ritual.

It began, as always, with the sale of roses to pedestrians in the city center.

On the afternoon of December 4, 2018, three men set out on this course, slide and two other participants, the "delinquents" as they were called.

Dia sold the fewest roses, and as a punishment he had to drink the most sour milk and eat meat balls.

This was followed by drinking games beyond the public.

The so-called "executioner" asked questions.

After every wrong answer, beer, gin and vodka had to be drunk - to the point of delirium.

With the “cantus”, as the ritual was belittled, “the delinquents should fall into a coma”, one of the group said later during the interrogation.

Dia vomited after the sixth or seventh glass of beer.

Like the other two, he was lying on the floor, they could barely speak.

The other male gang urinated on the group.

So that the delinquents could not choke on their vomit, they were straightened up in between.

Keywords: students, admission ritual, student, men, court, homicide, head, eel, water, pit, death, association, student baptism, correspondent, man