Posted on April 14, 2009

Singer With Most Popular German Band Faces Jail for ‘Infecting Man With HIV’

Fran Yeoman, Times of London, April 14, 2009

A singer with Germany’s most successful girl band has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm by infecting a partner with HIV.

Nadja Benaissa, who sold more than 5 million records and performed concerts around the world with No Angels, is alleged to have had unprotected sex with three people without telling them that she was HIV positive.

At least one man has since found he has the virus.

Benaissa, 26, a mother of one, became a celebrity overnight when she and four other young women won the first German series of the talent television show Popstars in 2000.

They formed No Angels, who were said to have been modelled on the Spice Girls, and went on to have a string of No 1 hits. Their popularity was such that in 2002, Ms Benaissa spoke publicly of her worries that the group may have become too famous. “If you see No Angels in every newspaper, on every television station and hear them on every radio station, the people will at some point get sick and tired of No Angels,” she said.

The group split in December 2003 before four of the original five members, including Benaissa, reformed in 2007. They were selected to represent Germany at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest with their single Disappear but finished last.

Benaissa, who was born in Germany and has a Moroccan father, was arrested in Frankfurt on Saturday evening shortly before she was due to give a solo performance. She was remanded in custody after a judge ruled that there was a danger she might repeat her alleged offence.

The public prosecutor’s office in the western town of Darmstadt said that the singer was being held because of the “urgent suspicion that the accused had unprotected sexual intercourse with three people in the years 2004 and 2006 without telling them beforehand that she was HIV positive”.

If found guilty she could face up to 10 years in prison.