German pop star Nadja Benaissa confesses in HIV trial
A German pop star Nadja Benaissa was unable to hold back tears Monday when she confessed withholding her HIV positive status a secret from her three lovers. She went on trial for causing grievous bodily harm.
"I am so sorry," the 28-year-old Nadja Benaissa apologizes, donned in a purple shirt, jeans and with her hair tied back, told the court in Darmstadt near Frankfurt. However, she vehemntly denied of intentionally to infect anyone with the virus that causes AIDS.
"When I was arrested I realized that the way that I had dealt with the illness had been wrong … I made a big mistake," her lawyer quoted her as saying in a statement read out to the court.
Benaissa, belongs to an all-female pop group No Angels, was nabbed in April 2009 just as she was about to perform at a Frankfurt nightclub. She was held in custody for 10 days before being released.
In February this year she was faced with a chargeof causing bodily harm and attempting to cause bodily harm. If convicted, Benaissa who’s also a mom will face between six months and 10 years in prison. The release of verdict is set on August 26.
Based on the charge sheet, she had unprotected sex on five occasions between 2000 and 2004 with three men and did not tell them she was infected.
She says she found out she was HIV positive in 1999 when she was 16 and three months pregnant.
One of the lovers, named only as Ralph S., narrated to the court he had discovered out about Benaissa being HIV positive from her aunt and went to his doctor for a blood test straight away.
"A few hours later the doctor rang and told me to come over. I went to pick up the results with my brother," and found out he was infected, he told the court.
"You have created a lot of suffering in the world," he told the singer.
No Angels shot to fame in 2000 thanks to a television talent show and had a string of hits in central Europe before breaking up in 2003. They met again in 2007 and competed in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.
Before her arrest the fact that Benaissa, who is half Moroccan, was HIV positive was not publicly known.
When she was charged the news was able to reach the press, igniting a debate about trial by media in a country that partly for historical reasons is highly sensitive about privacy and the presumption of innocence.
The other three members of No Angels were among the 20 witnesses due to testify in the trial, which was being held in a youth court because the first incident took place in 2000 when Benaissa was 17.
In a television interview in July 2009 the singer, who admitted being addicted to crack cocaine when she was 14, talked about living with being HIV positive.
"I can’t just go anywhere I like and be free and be a normal person. I now have this stamp. I will do my best to make the most of it," she said.
"I am actually completely healthy, not sick. I am HIV positive. Being HIV positive doesn’t mean being ill. If the disease breaks out it is called AIDS. I have a completely normal life expectancy."