17th August, 2010
A singer with Germany’s top girl band apologised in court yesterday for having sex with men without telling them she carried the virus that causes Aids.
Mother of one, Nadja Benaissa, 28, told justices at the District Court of Darmstadt, ”I am sorry with all my heart.”
She said she was ”careless during those days” and admitted she did not tell her sex partners about her condition.
And she claimed that she had been told the likelihood of her passing on HIV was ”more or less zero.”
For that reason, she said, so as not to have her young daughter stigmatised, she kept her illness secret from even her closest friends.
Her condition did not become known until April of last year when a former lover pressed charges. She was handcuffed and taken away in front of fans.
As to the charge of infecting one of the three men with the virus she said, ”I never wanted this to happen to one of my partners.”
But yesterday, the man who was infected claimed in court that her management tried to buy his silence over her condition.
The 34-year-old stared at her in the courtroom saying: ”You caused me so much grief.”
He said he had sex with her five to seven times over a three month period in 2004, at least three of which were without condoms.
He maintained contact with her after their affair ended and said it was her aunt who told him in 2007 that she was HIV positive.
The man told the court, ”My quality of life has shrunk enormously. I cannot travel to many countries. I have been told by my doctor my condition can become full blown Aids at any time.
”My income is halved but this is not about money. I am getting nausea all the time.”
He said her management offered him a deal to remain silent about her HIV but he said he wanted her to go public with it and pay 100,000 euros to an Aids research charity.
If she had done this, he claimed, he would not have gone to the police.
Benaissa, a singer with the band No Angels which at their height can roughly be compared to the UKâ€˜s Girls Aloud, is charged with attempted aggravated assault for unprotected sex with three men.
She also stands accused of aggravated assault after one of them became infected with the Aids virus.
But it is not yet clear if she will admit to this charge.
She is calling in her defence during the five-day hearing Aids expert, Professor Dr. Josef Eberle of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitty of Munich.
He is expected to testify that the victim may have been infected by another sexual partner.
After the trial before a judge and two lay people ends, she could be jailed for a maximum of ten years.
Benaissa’s HIV status was discovered in 2000 during a pregnancy test at a hospital. ”I was totally surprised,” she said.
The court heard she had sexual encounters with the three men a maximum of five times between 2000 and 2004. She is appearing before a juvenile court because her infection happened 11 years ago when she was 17.
Benaissa was arrested in April 2009 shortly before a concert in a nightclub in Frankfurt. One of the un-infected partners had made a complaint about her to police the previous year.
Dressed in jeans and a purple blouse with her hair tied into a pony tail, Benaissa said that her ”handling” of her illness was ”wrong” when she failed to disclose her HIV infection.
No Angels were discovered in 2000 during the TV talent show Popstars.
They are Germany’s most successful girl band and sold five million albums from 2000 to 2003.
They reformed in 2007 and competed in the 2008 Eurovision Song contest but only came in 23rd.