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'Class justice': No plans to appeal lenient sentences in student hazing death
The KU Leuven students involved in the hazing death of Sanda Dia were given lenient sentences in what critics are referring to as a case of "class justice", saying the white, wealthy fraternity students are walking away without a single mark on their criminal records.
Nevertheless, no appeal is planned when it comes to the conviction of the 18 members of the group involved, called the "Reuzegom circle".
Demonstrators held a rally against the sentence handed down by a Belgian court earlier this month, but the civil parties, the public prosecutor and the convicted students themselves have decided not to appeal, according to the court.
Sanda Dia, a 20-year-old student at KU Leuven, died during a hazing in 2018 in the Reuzegom circle.
The 18 defendants were each sentenced to community service (200 to 300 hours) and a fine of €400.
The fact that they were sentenced to community service drew a great deal of criticism, not least because these sentences do not appear on their criminal records.
The convicts were found guilty of breaching the Animal Welfare Act, degrading treatment and manslaughter. However, they were acquitted of administering a noxious substance and culpable negligence.
“Stop protecting the white elite,” was one of the slogans by demonstrators.
The names of the 20 alleged members of the Reuzegom student group - the 18 who stood trial and two others who did not - were graffitied multiple times on to a wall in a pedestrian alley in the centre of Ghent dedicated to frescoes and street art, beneath the title: "the Reuzegom killers".
The City of Ghent has painted over the names each time so as not to be complicit in potential defamation, and a formal complaint was filed against the anonymous artist(s).
Mayor Mathias De Clercq said he was sympathetic to the indignation that has arisen in the wake of the trial but that he subscribed “to the rule of law”.