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No Angels singer not jailed for spreading HIV

AFP · 26 Aug 2010, 15:37

Published: 26 Aug 2010 13:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Aug 2010 15:37 GMT+02:00

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The court in Darmstadt, western Germany, convicted the 28-year-old member of girl group No Angels, on one count of grievous bodily harm and two counts of attempted bodily harm.

Presiding Judge Dennis Wacker also ordered her to do 300 hours of community service, saying the relatively light sentence was appropriate because she had "learned to be responsible and deal with her illness."

Benaissa sighed deeply with relief when the verdict was read out and shortly afterwards began to sob. She cried for several minutes, hiding her eyes with her hands.

The singer had confessed to having unprotected sex and keeping her virus secret but denied intending to infect anyone during a trial that has sparked a media frenzy in Germany.

She had previously made an emotional apology during closing arguments, telling the court: "I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. I would love to turn back the clock, but I can't."

She said she had made an "enormous mistake."

The charges against Benaissa could have led to up to 10 years behind bars, but both the prosecutors and the defence argued for a suspended sentence as she had admitted to the crime and said sorry.

Wacker said the sentence was relatively light because Benaissa was "aware of the mistakes she made and wanted to take responsibility for them." The passing-on of the virus was "not intentional," he ruled.

Benaissa's lawyer Oliver Wallasch said: "I think we can be satisfied with the verdict."

He explained his client's emotional response by saying, "the tension was very high ... but now she can breathe again."

Medical experts determined during the trial she had almost certainly infected one of her ex-boyfriends with the HIV virus, as they both had a strain of the virus that is relatively rare in Germany.

The man, who was a plaintiff in the case, launched a bitter and scathing attack on the singer during the trial, accusing her of causing "a lot of suffering in this world."

Benaissa found out she was HIV positive when she was 16 and three months pregnant and had endured a difficult youth up until that point, the court in Darmstadt heard.

She began to fall off the rails at the age of 12, fell in with the wrong crowd, and became an habitual user of soft drugs and alcohol, then a crack addict at the age of 14, living on the streets near Frankfurt station.

Discovering she was HIV positive and pregnant, she tried to turn her life around and appeared on a television talent show, during which she was chosen to form part of the group No Angels, which had a string of hits, mainly in central Europe.

The all-female band split up in 2003, but reformed in 2007 and competed in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, coming 23rd out of 25 countries.

Benaissa said doctors had told her the risk of transmitting the virus was "practically zero" and she did not want to jeopardise her success by revealing she was HIV positive.

Story continues below…

When she was arrested in April 2009 just before performing at a gig in Frankfurt, the news was leaked to the press, sparking a media frenzy. The case prompted a debate about trial by media and presumption of innocence in a country that partly for historical reasons is highly sensitive about privacy.

The news magazine Der Spiegel described the trial as a "witch hunt" and AIDS organisations expressed their concern that HIV carriers would feel pressured to take sole responsibility for safe sex.

One group, AIDS help, slammed the verdict as giving the "wrong message" about dealing with the HIV virus.

"If the responsibility for prevention is placed only on women and those with HIV, we are not recognising that two people share this responsibility," said Marianne Rademacher from the group.

Wacker, the judge, insisted that "only an open debate without prejudice can help to prevent such cases."

In October, an authorised biography of the singer, who is rumoured to be leaving No Angels, is due to be released with the title: "Nadja Benaissa - Everything is going to be alright."

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Your comments about this article

15:13 August 26, 2010 by AirForceGuy
Since she probably now has a lot of money from her singing career, her 'victims' should sue her for medical tests and AIDS treatments for the rest of their lives.
15:50 August 26, 2010 by ironman294
Are you kidding me? She said sorry and admitted her crime, so she should go free?

What about her ex-boyfriend who now has this. Does her sayings orry make up for this? He should sue her pants off and get millions off of her.

19:37 August 26, 2010 by Helena Kekkonen
If you have a sexual relationship with someone without the protection, you expose yourself to HIV and other STDs (sexually transmitted disease), which alltogether are around 30 different. You also are resposible for getting those. Mightbe, that your partner doesn`t know her status or she or you are in window period, which means HIV load is still very low in the blood and can`nt be detected. Still you can infect others.

Sex is a gift from God, the wedding gift meant to be between the wife and husband. God wanted to protect us from the sufferings, which we are now in.

20:25 August 26, 2010 by iseedaftpeople
well yes, technically every time you end up in the sack with somebody, there is that risk that you will catch something.

But the least you can ask for (or, apparently not) is that your sexual partner tells you about a disease they KNOW they have... and this girl knew. There is no excuse for keeping quiet about it, you're jeopardizing other people's lives and well-being when HIV comes into play. She certainly ruined the lives of the guys she infected. They will never be able to enjoy sex again like they used to, and they will forever have a host of health issues and quite likely a reduced lifespan looming over their heads - even with today's advanced medical treatments. And once the disease breaks out, they will be marginalized by society.

The sentence is a joke. She essentially got a slap on the wrist by saying "oops, my bad"... it does send the wrong message, and it plays down the importance of honesty, looking after yourself and knowing about your partner's sexual past.
22:30 August 26, 2010 by hOU
Contemptible media trollop.
13:33 August 30, 2010 by ommb
you are forgetting the fact that the ex-boyfriends did not ask her if she had any diesease before having sex with her, so protection is the only safe way if u dont know some1 or else u are risking big tym!
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