Verdict in HIV Trial German Pop Star Gets Two-Year Suspended Sentence
German pop star Nadja Benaissa has been found guilty of infecting a former lover with HIV. She received a two-year suspended sentence and 300 hours of community work. The No Angels singer said she wished she could "turn back time and make it not have happened."
It was a case that involved celebrity, sex and the question of who is responsible for protecting themselves against HIV. The story had captivated Germany ever since Nadja Benaissa, a member of the successful German pop group No Angels, was arrested in April 2009 on suspicion of infecting a sexual partner with HIV.
The end of the high-profile trial came Thursday, when the verdict in the case was announced. A Darmstadt court found Benaissa guilty of aggravated battery for having unprotected sex with a man despite knowing she was HIV-positive. She was also found guilty of a second count of attempted battery. She received a two-year suspended sentence and is also required to carry out 300 hours of community work.
The 28-year-old singer reportedly cried as the verdict was being read out. Judge Dennis Wacker said that "at no point" had Benaissa told the man she had infected about her HIV status.
Benaissa had confessed at the beginning of the trial that she had not taken sufficient precautions to avoid transmitting the virus while having sex with at least two partners during the years in question. She had known she was HIV-positive since 1999, when she had had a baby.
'I Wish I Could Turn Back Time'
One of the partners, who was a joint plaintiff in the trial, had become infected with HIV in 2004, apparently as a result of having unprotected sex with Benaissa. A microbiologist told the court Wednesday that it was "almost certain" the infection came from Benaissa, based on an analysis of the subtypes of the HIV virus carried by the two people.
Benaissa's lawyer, Oliver Wallasch, had pleaded for a "fitting" suspended sentence for his client, who he said deeply regretted her behavior.
"It will always be painful for me," said Benaissa during her final statement on Wednesday. She had seen during the trial how her former lover was suffering, she said. "I wish I could turn back time and make it not have happened."
Benaissa joined the pop group No Angels in 2000 along with four other singers. The band became one of Europe's most successful girl groups, selling more than 5 million records and scoring several number one hits. The group split up in December 2003 but made a comeback in 2007.
dgs - with wire reports