Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

France concerned about anti-Semitism

Read more

WEB NEWS

Online movement demands peace in Gaza

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Apple aims to satisfy China's hunger for smartphones

Read more

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin? (part two)

Read more

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

  • Netherlands to honour MH17 victims in national day of mourning

    Read more

  • Kerry arrives in Israel to push for Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with warships sale to Russia

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

Europe

HIV pop singer escapes jail after infecting partner

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-26

A German pop singer who confessed to knowingly exposing two men to the risk of HIV, and infecting one of them, has been given a suspended jail sentence.

AFP - An HIV-positive pop star broke down in tears on Thursday after a German court handed her a two-year suspended sentence for infecting a former sex partner with the virus.

The court in Darmstadt, western Germany, convicted 28-year-old Nadja Benaissa, a 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.

The glamorous half-Moroccan star, wearing a black top and jeans, 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."

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.

Medical experts determined 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 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.

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.

Respected news magazine 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.

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."

Date created : 2010-08-26

  • GERMANY

    HIV-positive singer admits to unprotected sex

    Read more

COMMENT(S)