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Hazing turned tragic? Death of 6 students perplexes Portugal

Published on Jan 29, 2014 6:17 AM

LISBON (AFP) - Was it freak seas? Hazing amounting to a crime? Or something else? Portugal is struggling to uncover the reasons why six university students drowned in the middle of the night off a deserted beach near Lisbon last month, with suspicions crystalising that they were taking part in a ritualised induction turned tragic.

That theory has been bolstered by the stubborn silence of a seventh student who was the sole survivor, and media investigations that bit by bit have revealed details.

"The fate of these young people swallowed up by the waves... forces us to pause. We must ban university hazings," a former Portuguese president, Mario Soares, wrote in an op-ed published on Tuesday.

He, like many of the country's newspapers, dismissed the assertion made on Monday by the secretary of state for youth affairs, Emidio Guerreiro, that the drownings "didn't result from university hazing" but were rather "a police matter".

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