German pop star ‘sorry’ for HIV sex

Darmstadt: German pop star Nadja Benaissa admitted on the opening day of her trial on Monday not telling sexual partners, with whom she had unprotected sex, that she was HIV positive.

"I am so sorry," the contrite-looking 28-year-old told the court in Darmstadt near Frankfurt, dressed in a purple shirt and with her hair tied back. She denied however intending to infect anyone with the virus.

Benaissa, a member of the all-female pop group No Angels, was arrested last April just as she was about to perform at a Frankfurt nightclub and spent 10 days in custody before being released.

In February this year she was charged with causing bodily harm. If convicted Benaissa faces between six months and 10 years in prison. A verdict is due on August 26.

According to the charge sheet, she had sex on five occasions between 2000 and 2004 with three people and did not tell them she was infected, even though she had known since 1999.

One of the three had since been confirmed as being infected with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, prosecutors had said in February.

No Angels shot to fame in 2000 thanks to a television talent show and had a string of hits in central Europe before splitting up in 2003. They reformed in 2007 and competed in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.

Before her arrest the fact that she was HIV positive was not public.

When she was charged the news was leaked to the press, sparking 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 due to appear as witnesses in the trial, which was being held in a youth court because the first alleged incident took place when Benaissa was 17.

–Bureau Report

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