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German Star Convicted of Spreading H.I.V.
 
 
  August 26, 2010, 2:57 pm
NY Times Blog
By ROBERT MACKEY
 

Nadja Benaissa, a German pop star, in court on Thursday in Darmstadt, Germany.
 
Nadja Benaissa, a German pop star, was found guilty on Thursday of causing grievous bodily harm to a man who contracted H.I.V. after having unprotected sex with her, as my colleague Michael Slackman reports.
 
In addition to a two-year suspended sentence, Ms. Benaissa was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service, according to Reuters. The 28-year-old singer had faced up to 10 years behind bars.
 
As The Lede explained last week, Ms. Benaissa had admitted at the start of her trial in the German town of Darmstadt that she had concealed the fact that she was infected with the virus from the man, and from two other sexual partners.
 
Both the prosecutor and her defense attorney had asked the court for a suspended sentence at the end of the trial on Wednesday. The German broadcaster Deutsche Welle explained that the prosecutor had "cited her confession and her expression of remorse as reasons for lighter sentence."
 
In a commentary on the trial for the German magazine Der Spiegel this week, Gisela Friedrichsen attacked the authorities for the way they handled the case from the beginning - arresting Ms. Benaissa in front of her fans at a concert, detaining her for several days and then divulging the fact of her infection to the public. Ms. Friedrichsen - who noted that the decision to proceed with a trial, rather than "a simple penalty order," was taken by five men - suggested that the "witch hunt against the singer" disguised the responsibility men have for safe sex.
 
In her testimony, Ms. Benaissa addressed this issue as well, telling the court: "I also thought that my respective partners also bore some of the responsibility to talk about and contribute to preventing infection by using condoms. In this respect, I neglected my own responsibility. Today I have to admit that this was a big mistake on my part."
 
Ms. Friedrichsen added:
 
Men tend to leave contraception up to women, be it prevention of an unwanted pregnancy or avoiding infection. Their sex partners often seek to excuse their behavior with the argument that they were young and were drunk on the evening or night in question, and that "it just happened."
 
 
 
 
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