Girl-band star escapes jail over HIV infection
By Hakan Erdem
DARMSTADT, Germany (Reuters Life!) - A German pop singer who confessed to knowingly exposing two men to the risk of HIV after finding out she had the virus herself was convicted by a court Thursday of grievous bodily harm.
Nadja Benaissa, 28, from German girl-band No Angels was given a two-year suspended sentence. She could have faced up to 10 years in jail. Prosecutors had sought a lenient sentence because Benaissa had confessed and expressed remorse.
"I made a huge mistake," Benaissa told the Darmstadt court in western Germany at the end of the trial Wednesday, adding she had kept it all a secret because she was afraid of what would happen if the public learned she had been HIV-positive.
"I was a coward," she said. "I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could turn back the clock and make it all not happen."
Benaissa was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm in one instance for infecting a 34-year-old talent agent, and attempted grievous bodily harm for another occasion when she had unprotected sex with another man between 2000 and 2004.
She was also required to perform 300 hours of community service and submit to regular counseling sessions.
Benaissa's lawyer Oliver Wallasch said the trial had been a stressful experience for the singer but that she had no complaints about the punishment meted out.
"I think on the part of the defense and that of my client one can be satisfied with the verdict," he told reporters. Continued...