Singer guilty of HIV infection
A singer in a German girl band broke down in tears after a court convicted her of causing bodily harm to her ex-boyfriend by having unprotected sex with him, despite knowing she was infected with HIV.
Nadja Benaissa, 28, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and 300 hours community service after she was convicted in a Darmstadt administrative court. She had faced a possible 10 years behind bars.
The court ruled that Benaissa had infected a former boyfriend with the virus that causes AIDS by having unprotected sex with him. She had already admitted that she had had unprotected sex despite knowing she was HIV-positive.
"I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart," Benaissa said, adding that she had realised how much her ex-boyfriend was still suffering.
"I wish I could turn back time and make everything undone," she told the court. "But I know that he will never forgive me."
The man who claimed Benaissa infected him said they had a three-month relationship at the beginning of 2004 and that he got tested after Benaissa's aunt asked him in 2007 whether he was aware that the singer was HIV-positive.
Benaissa said she didn't tell anybody about her disease because she was afraid of the consequences - which she described during the trial as a "cowardly act."
During the trial, microbiologist Josef Eberle, who examined the viruses of both Benaissa and her ex-boyfriend, told the court "in all probability" the singer was responsible for infecting the 34-year-old man with the virus that causes AIDS. Both were suffering from a very rare type of the virus that was first found in western Africa, he said.
Benaissa told the court she became addicted to crack cocaine at 14 and that during her pregnancy at 16, she found out that she was HIV positive. After winning a TV talent show, Popstars, in 2000, she joined the band No Angels with four other young women, keeping her illness a secret.
No Angels sold more than 5 million albums before breaking up in 2003. They reformed to perform in the 2008 Eurovision song contest.