German prosecutors, defense recommend no prison time for singer with HIV

DARMSTADT, Germany (AP) — German prosecutors and defense attorneys on Wednesday recommended no prison time for a girl-band singer accused of causing bodily harm to her ex-boyfriend by allegedly infecting him with HIV.

Both sides in closing arguments suggested a two-year suspended sentence for 28-year-old Nadja Benaissa, a member of German girl-band No Angels.

Benaissa acknowledged that she had unprotected sex despite knowing she was HIV-positive and called it a big mistake.

"I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart," Benaissa said, adding that during the trial she had realized how much her ex-boyfriend was still suffering.

"I wish I could turn back time and make everything undone," she told the Darmstadt administrative court. "But I know that he will never forgive me."

The man who claimed Benaissa infected him said they had a three-month relationship at the beginning of 2004 and that he got tested after Benaissa's aunt asked him in 2007 whether he was aware that the singer was HIV-positive, German news agency DAPD reported.

Benaissa said she didn't tell anybody about her disease because she was afraid of the consequences — which she now called a "cowardly act."

A microbiologist, who examined the viruses of both Benaissa and her ex-boyfriend, told the court Wednesday that "in all probability" the singer was responsible for infecting the 34-year-old man with the virus that causes AIDS.

Both were suffering from a very rare type of the virus that was first found in western Africa, said Josef Eberle.

In an earlier statement, Benaissa told the court she became addicted to crack cocaine at 14 and that during her pregnancy at 16, she found out that she was HIV positive.

After winning a TV talent show, "Popstars," in 2000, she joined No Angels with four other young women and hid her illness from everyone.

No Angels sold more than 5 million albums before breaking up in 2003.

Along with three other members from the original band, Benaissa helped reform the group in 2007. They performed to a disastrous result in the 2008 Eurovision song contest, coming in 23rd out of 25 contestants.

No Angels were heading into a concert in Frankfurt in April 2009, when Benaissa was taken into custody and kept for 10 days — a move that a German AIDS awareness group criticized as disproportionate. The Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe group argued that the question of whether her partners also carried a share of the responsibility had been neglected.

A verdict is expected Thursday. The charge could carry several years in jail.