First year law student dead after alleged law society initiation

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By Katie King on

Aspiring lawyer found lifeless in Philippines with bruising and candle wax drips on his body — fellow law student is one of three ‘primary suspects’

University of Santo Tomas

A law student fresher from Manila, the Philippines’ capital, has died in what’s thought to be a law society initiation gone wrong.

CNN reports Horacio Tomas Castillo III, a first year at the University of Santo Tomas, was found dead with bruising and candle wax drips on his body. It’s believed the 22-year-old left his home for the “welcoming rites” of the Aegis Juris Fraternity — described by the press as “a recognised law school-based fraternity” — and never returned.

One of Castillo’s teachers said fraternities like Aegis Juris appeal to aspiring lawyers because members say they’ll be able to help with resources and legal profession connections. Having described Castillo as “a student with a huge potential to become this country’s leader”, Professor Dennis Coronacion continued:

Frat members also exploit the fact that most new law students would like to belong to a certain organisation in law school.

While UK students may recall drinking dirty pints or dressing up in silly costumes during freshers’ week, the Philippines has a real problem with “hazing” — extremely humiliating and often violent initiation rituals. Despite laws being passed to combat the craze, cases of hazing have been cited in the deaths of other law students including 20-year-old Marc Andre, allegedly beaten to death in 2012, and 25-year-old Marvin Reglos, who was alleged to have suffered a “dreadful act of violence” (though both cases remain unresolved).

While Castillo’s parents were reportedly hesitant to let their son join Aegis Juris Fraternity, he managed to convince them the society doesn’t practice hazing. At the time of writing, the fraternity’s website is in “maintenance mode”.

In a strange twist of events, it’s also come to light that the law student, John Paul Solano, who claimed to have found Castillo’s body is now one of the police’s “primary suspects” along with two other individuals.

The reports that the Manila Police District would also be treating other members of the fraternity as possible suspects in accordance with the country’s anti-hazing laws.

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