German court finds pop star guilty

Nadja Benaissa handed two-year suspended sentence for exposing partners to virus.

    Benaissa has been accused of not telling her sexual partners that she was HIV positive [AFP]

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

    The man who claims the singer infected him said they had a three-month relationship in early 2004.

    He launched a bitter and scathing attack on the singer during the trial, accusing her of causing "a lot of suffering in this world".

    'Difficult youth'

    Benaissa told the court she had endured a difficult youth - becoming a crack addict at 14 and living on the streets near Frankfurt station.

    She discovered she was HIV positive when she became pregnant aged 16.

    Laurence Lee reports on the Benaissa trial

    In 2000 Benaissa won a television talent show Popstars and joined No Angels with four other young women but hid her illness from everyone for fear it would damage her career.

    No Angels sold more than five million albums before breaking up in 2003.

    Along with three other members from the original band, Benaissa helped reform the group in 2007 but performed with disastrous results in the 2008 Eurovision song contest.

    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.

    No Angels were heading into a concert in Frankfurt in April 2009, when Benaissa was taken into custody and kept for 10 days - a move a German Aids-awareness group has criticised as disproportionate.

    The Deutsche Aids-Hilfe group argued that the question of whether her partners also carried a share of the responsibility had been neglected.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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