A baptism that turns sour: 18 members of a circle of students to appear in front of the council chamber after a death

The 18 members of the circle of students are summoned to appear in the context of the investigation opened for manslaughter, degrading treatment and administration of harmful substances. The council chamber will decide on September 4 on their possible referral to the criminal court.

The facts date back to the evening of December 4 to 5, 2018. The victim, a 20-year-old student, died during an outdoor activity of the Reuzegom circle in Vorselaar. The young man had to submit for several hours, with two other students undergoing their baptism, to a series of denigrating and even dangerous tests, one of which was to ingest a large quantity of fish oil. In addition to the victim, who had been taken to the emergency room after her baptism, while she was unconscious and hypothermic, the other two students also had to be hospitalized.

The investigation into the death of the young student, initially in the hands of the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office, was transferred to that of Limburg because it emerged during the investigation that a judge from the Antwerp court of first instance had a family link with a member of the student circle involved.

The death of the student caused a stir in Flanders and revived the debate on student baptisms. After years of efforts, the KUL (University of Louvain) has managed to get all circles to sign a charter governing hazing. The Reuzegom circle, which was not recognized by the university, has meanwhile been dissolved and its members suspended by the KUL.

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