Cyprus: Court sentenced British woman to 7 months in jail for alleged HIV exposure


Court in Cyprus passes seven-month sentence on woman who hid her illness

April 28, 1998
Source: The Herald

A British woman was yesterday sentenced to seven months in prison by a Nicosia court for having unprotected sex with two Cypriot men knowing she was HIV positive.

Manchester-born Cypriot X, 26, pleaded guilty to having unprotected sex with a local taxi driver and a 22-year-old man while hiding the fact she had full-blown Aids.

The married taxi driver and the single 22-year-old have taken Aids tests which have subsequently proved negative.

But the judge said a prison term was unavoidable.

”Although the accused  admitted to the offences and the fact that she was drunk at the time, it is no excuse. The accused’s state of mind and health are also slight factors in determining sentencing,” said Judge Haris Solomonides.

The prosecution had alleged that the woman cruised bars looking to ”pick men up”. The defence argued that X’s actions were related to bouts of heavy drinking to escape severe depression.

Although the judge took into account the fact that X only had a short time to live, he said protecting society from the spread of Aids was paramount.

”Taking everything into account the facts weigh heavily against the accused. She knew about her disease and how it was transmitted but she still went with other men without telling them of her condition or using a condom,” said the judge.

As the sentence was read out at Nicosia District Court, X sat motionless in the dock and left the courtroom with a shawl over her head.

She will serve her sentence at the women’s wing at Nicosia Central Prison.

X’s lawyer Andreas Estichiou said afterwards: ”I think the judge was exceptionally lenient in this case. These kind of offences carry a much stiffer sentence abroad.”

When delivering his decision Judge Solomonides called for the Cyprus law to be amended to impose a much stiffer prison sentence than the two year maximum.

The woman was tried under a 45-year-old law imposed to stop the spread of contagious diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis.

Mr Estichiou said his client accepted the verdict.

”She understands the nature of the sentence and is satisfied. She didn’t expect to be released.”

This is the second case of its kind to come to court in Cyprus.

In the first, fisherman PG was sentenced last summer to 15 months in prison for knowingly infecting his British ex-girlfriend JP with the HIV virus during a holiday romance.

He was released on a presidential pardon on New Year’s eve after serving five months of his prison term.

X was born in Manchester where she worked as a hairdresser. She came to live in Cyprus in 1987, where she contracted the disease in 1993 from another British Cypriot living on the island. The court heard she started having affairs with other men after separating from her Lebanese husband, who now lives in Beirut with their seven-year-old twin boys.