Medical experts: student Sanda (20) died of salt overdose

This is explained by three independent medical experts in the much-discussed trial against eighteen members of the Flemish student club Reuzegom, Belgian media including Het Laatste Nieuws report.

‘As good as dead’

Sanda died in December 2018 after undergoing a two-day hazing ritual in Leuven and later in the forest of Vorselaar. He was instructed to drink large amounts of salty fish oil in which live mice had been added with a blender. In addition, he stood for a long time without clothing in a self-dug pit in which ice water was thrown over him, causing him to become severely hypothermic.

“When he arrived at the emergency room, he did not open his eyes anymore,” Belgian forensic pathologist Werner Jacobs of the University of Antwerp said in court, writes De Morgen newspaper. “He also didn’t respond anymore. He was actually brought into the hospital as good as dead.”

4 liters of sea water

According to Jacobs, the amount of salt in Sanda’s body can be compared to someone who drinks 4 liters of seawater. This led to an acute ‘brain edema’ in the then 20-year-old engineering student: in which the brain swells and irreversible brain damage occurs. Everything that has been tried in the hospital to save him was ‘doomed to fail’, according to the medical expert.

The latter finding is important in the process. The defense of the suspects previously asked questions about Sanda’s medical treatment. In the lawsuit other questions followed, such as: could the accused Giant Gums know how dangerous fish oil was?

The amount of alcohol Sanda drank also played a role, said Niels Van Regenmortel, another medical expert who specializes in intensive care. “At some point there is a point of no return. The combination of hypothermia, dehydration and the high salinity makes death inevitable.”


The hearing also revealed that bruises were also discovered on Sanda during the physical examination. Injuries were found on the top of the boy’s head, chest, back and pelvis. These may have arisen during resuscitation attempts in the hospital, but according to pathologist Jacobs also indicate the use of violence.

The trial continues on April 22. Then the lawyers can make their pleas.

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