By Calvin Palmer
There is something vaguely gothic about the trial of singer Nadja Benaissa in Germany.
The singer with the girl group No Angels is accused of grievous bodily harm after a man she slept with became infected with HIV. She is also facing five charges of attempted grievous bodily harm for sleeping with the men without protection.
The 28-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. In less enlightened times, she would be looking at being burnt at the stake for her “crime”.
Benaissa discovered that she was infected with HIV at the age of 16 during routine hospital tests when she became pregnant with her daughter.
She admitted during the opening of the trial in Darmstadt that she had had unprotected sex with several men.
“I’m sorry from my heart,” she said. “The last thing I wanted was for my partner to get infected.”
In a statement through her lawyer, she said she was told that the chance of passing on the virus was “practically zero”.
“Therefore I also concealed the fact that I was infected to my acquaintances. I did not want my daughter to be branded by this.
“I told the band members because I trusted them. I never made it public because I thought that would mean the end of the band.”
Benaissa, who is half German half Moroccan, is alleged to have slept with three men a maximum of five times between 2000 and 2004.
“I was careless during those days,” she said and admitted she did not tell her sex partners about her condition.
The man who claims the pop star infected him said they had a three-month relationship at the beginning of 2004.
He said he got tested after Benaissa’s aunt asked him in 2007 whether he was aware that the singer was HIV positive.
It is alleged another former partner made a complaint to police in 2008.
Benaissa was arrested in April 2009, before a concert in Frankfurt and held in custody for 10 days.
AIDS campaign groups called her arrest a “modern witch hunt.”
Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe said the manner of Benaissa’s arrest and her HIV status being made public was unacceptable, although it did not condone her alleged behavior.
Jörg Litinschuh, spokesman for DAH said of the arrest: “It centers on a famous woman, sexuality and possible guilt.
“It’s a form of modern witch-hunting and I hope it’s not an indication that the politics of dealing with HIV and Aids is becoming more restrictive.”
A verdict is expected on August 26 and during the course of the trial Aids expert Professor Dr Josef Eberle, of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, is expected to say that the HIV positive man could have been infected by another sexual partner.
No Angels went on to become one of Germany’s popular groups, selling more than five million records before breaking up in 2003. They reformed in 2007 and took part in the 2008 Eurovision song contest.