France: Man sentenced to five years for alleged transmission during one-off unprotected sex encounter in 1999


Prison for deliberate HIV transmission

June 23, 2011
Source: Le Figaro
Google translation - Scroll down for French article

A 40-year-old man was found guilty of knowingly transmitting the AIDS virus to his former partner in 1999. He was given five years in prison, two of which were suspended.

The Assize Court of Bas-Rhin sentenced Friday to five years in prison, including two suspended, a man of 40 years found guilty of knowingly transmitted the AIDS virus to his former companion in 1999. X, who appeared free and responded to administration of harmful substance followed by permanent disability by concubine, was imprisoned.

At the hearing today, the 38-year-old victim explained that she had only one unprotected report with the accused in October 1999 and that she became ill two months later. But it was only in 2006 that she learned that the accused knew of her HIV status at the time of their relationship, which ended in 2003, which led her to file a complaint. X, who admitted having known his HIV status at the time of his relationship with the young woman, said he believed that she herself was ill. Both were at the time drug addicts, he said.

“Penalization of HIV transmission”

While anti-AIDS organizations are protesting against the “criminalization of HIV transmission” , highlighting the shared responsibility of partners, the Advocate General emphasized that the prosecution was “legally founded, morally just and humanly equitable “. “Everyone has a duty to protect themselves. But negligence does not exonerate someone who, knowingly, refrains from informing his partner or misleads him, “said Claude Palpacuer.

The two defense lawyers asked for the acquittal of their client. “Mr. X spoke ill. True, he did not say he was HIV positive. It’s his big mistake. But that shows the difficulties to talk about this disease, “pleaded Catherine Matarin. If the accused had “knowledge of his illness, he was not aware of it,” said the lawyer. Contaminated during his military service in 1988-1989, he was not obliged to follow a regular drug treatment until 2008.

Already convicted five times in cases of theft and narcotics, X incurs fifteen years of criminal imprisonment. The Advocate General had required five years in prison. In recent years, sentences of up to ten years in prison have been handed down in correctional cases in cases of voluntary transmission of the AIDS virus , in line with a first judgment rendered in 2005 in Colmar. In 2008, the first trial of this kind before a court of assizes resulted in the conviction of a woman to five years in prison suspended.

Prison ferme pour avoir sciemment transmis le sida

Un homme de 40 ans a été reconnu coupable d’avoir sciemment transmis le virus du sida à son ancienne compagne, en 1999. Il écope de cinq ans de prison, dont deux avec sursis.

La cour d’assises du Bas-Rhin a condamné vendredi à cinq ans de prison, dont deux avec sursis, un homme de 40 ans reconnu coupable d’avoir sciemment transmis le virus du sida à son ancienne compagne en 1999. X, qui comparaissait libre et répondait d’administration de substance nuisible suivie d’infirmité permanente par concubin, a été écroué.

A l’audience, la victime aujourd’hui, âgée de 38 ans, a expliqué avoir eu un seul rapport non protégé avec l’accusé, en octobre 1999, et être tombée malade deux mois après. Mais ce n’est qu’en 2006 qu’elle a appris que l’accusé connaissait sa séropositivité au moment de leur relation, qui s’est achevée en 2003, ce qui l’a conduite à porter plainte. X, qui a reconnu avoir connu sa séropositivité au moment de sa relation avec la jeune femme, a dit avoir cru qu’elle-même était malade. Tous deux étaient à l’époque toxicomanes, a-t-il précisé.

«Pénalisation de la transmission du VIH»

Alors que des associations de lutte contre le sida s’élèvent contre la «pénalisation de la transmission du VIH», en mettant en avant la responsabilité partagée des partenaires, l’avocat général s’est attaché à démontrer que les poursuites engagées étaient «juridiquement fondées, moralement justes et humainement équitables». «Chacun a le devoir de se protéger. Mais la négligence n’exonère pas celui, qui en connaissance de cause, s’abstient d’informer sa partenaire ou l’induit en erreur», a dit Claude Palpacuer.

Les deux avocats de la défense ont eux demandé l’acquittement de leur client. «M. X s’est mal exprimé. C’est vrai qu’il n’a pas dit qu’il était séropositif. C’est sa grande faute. Mais cela montre bien les difficultés à parler de cette maladie», a plaidé Me Catherine Matarin. Si l’accusé avait «connaissance de sa maladie, il n’en avait pas conscience», a souligné l’avocate. Contaminé lors de son service militaire en 1988-1989, il n’a été obligé de suivre un traitement médicamenteux régulier qu’en 2008.

Déjà condamné à cinq reprises dans des affaires de vol et de stupéfiants, X encourait quinze années de réclusion criminelle. L’avocat général avait requis cinq ans de prison ferme. Ces dernières années, des peines allant jusqu’à dix ans de prison ferme ont été prononcées en correctionnelle dans des affaires de transmission volontaires du virus du sida, dans la lignée d’un premier jugement rendu en 2005 à Colmar. En 2008, le premier procès de ce genre devant une cour d’assises avait abouti à la condamnation d’une femme à cinq ans de prison avec sursis.

Editorial comment

A 40 year old man has been found guilty of administering a harmful substance to one’s spouse or common law husband/wife with the consequence of lifelong impairment (“administration de substance nuisible par conjoint ou concubin ayant entraîné une infirmité permanente”) for not disclosing his HIV status to a former partner in 1999, who subsequently was also diagnosed HIV-positive.

The Assize Court of the Lower Rhine in Strasbourg sentenced him to five years imprisonment, of which two years are suspended. The attorney general had requested five years in prison. The fact that the man was the longtime companion of the complainant during the commission of the ‘crime’ is an aggravating factor in French law that increases the maximum penalty from 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment.

This also explains his appearance before the Assize Court (Cour d’assises) which is reserved for trials for more serious crimes.

What is unusual about the reporting in this case is that both complainant – G – and accused – X – were named in the Thursday story in Le Figaro.  This is the first time I have ever seen a complainant named (other than police officers assaulted via saliva or bite in the United States.)

Another unusual aspect of the case is that Ms G, 38, testified that she only had unprotected intercourse once with the accused, in October 1999. She says she fell ill two months later but it was not until 2006 that she learned that the accused knew his HIV status during the time of their relationship, which ended in 2003, and which led her to complain to the police.

Mr X says he was infected during his military service in 1988-1989, but only began antiretroviral therapy in 2008. He admitted having known his HIV status at the time of the unprotected encounter but said he believed that was Ms G also HIV-positive because both were injecting drug users at the time and because she agreed to unprotected sex.

This does beg the question of whether the prosecution was able to prove a cause-effect relationship between Mr X’s behaviour and Ms G’s infection.  There is no apparent use of phyogenentics which could rule out that their viruses are linked, or to suggest a linkage.

Her diagnosis two months following the single episode of unprotected sex – which, on average, carries a very low transmssion risk of 1-in-1250 – could be purely coincidental, and she may well have acquired HIV via needle sharing or from another sexual partner.  Neither appear to have been used as a defence in the case which appears to have focused solely on Mr X’s responsibility to disclose his HIV-positive status prior to a single instance of unprotected sex and highlights difficulties with disclosure.

The discussions highlighted the difficulties Thursday, leading the jury to consider the intimacy of the relationship of two partners who now hold conflicting versions.

The complainant said she always had safer sex with Mr. X, except once, when he assured her that she had nothing to fear.

The accused acknowledged he knew he was carrying the AIDS virus, and claimed to have infected his girlfriend due to a misunderstanding, and cowardice. “I told her I could not do it without a condom, she said ‘OK’, and we did. For me, it meant she was [HIV-positive] like me,” he told the court.

“You’re too optimistic,” said his lawyer Herve Begeot. “Why were you not more explicit, why not clearly tell the victim you were HIV positive?” “I ran out of courage,” said Mr. X.


Court: Deliberate transmission of HIV?

March 24, 2011
Source: Le Figaro
Google translation - Scroll down for French article

Did Emmanuel Baudard knowingly transmit to his companion the AIDS virus?

The Assize Court of Bas-Rhin will examine until Friday an issue still rarely raised before such a jurisdiction, because of the difficulty to establish the offense, buried in the privacy of couples. Baudard, aged 40, appears for administration of harmful substance followed by permanent disability by concubine.

He is accused of deliberately hiding his HIV-positive status to his partner, which he had known since 1989, and of transmitting the virus in 1999, knowing he was at risk. Gillali Gillmann learned of his HIV status in December 1999. but it was only after she was separated from Mr. Baudard in 2003 that she understood that he knew about her illness at the time of their relationship, which led her to in January 2007.

The fact that the Accused was the victim’s companion in the commission of the facts is an aggravating circumstance, which adds to the sentence of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment, which explains his appearance in court.

According to Barbara Wagner, president of the association Femmes positives, created in 2003 to support the victims of deliberate contamination, this is the second time in the French judicial annals that a court of assizes looks into a case of this type. In 2008, the Assize Court of Loiret sentenced a woman accused of having contaminated her husband to five years in prison. Other cases were tried in criminal courts, but they are apparently rare. The association, for its part, followed a “fifteen or so people.” “There are many non-places, and the victims often have to deal with associations that are against this kind of procedure,” explains Ms. Wagner. in the audience at the Strasbourg hearing.

The association against AIDS Act up, raised against the “criminalization of HIV transmission.” “These are complex issues, first for legal reasons: there are conditions for the nature of the facts: it touches the intimate, “said AFP Yannick Pheulpin, a lawyer for the civil party. The debates highlighted Thursday these difficulties, leading jurors to look into the intimacy of the relations of two partners who are holding contradictory versions today.

The complainant said that she had always had safe sex with Mr. Baudard, except for once, where he would have assured her that she had nothing to fear.

The accused, if he acknowledged that he knew he was carrying the AIDS virus, claimed to have contaminated his companion on a misunderstanding, and cowardice. “I told her that I could not do it without a condom, she said ‘it sucks nothing’, we did it, it meant to me that she was like me,” she said. he said to the court: “You have sinned out of optimism,” commented his lawyer Hervé Begeot. Why not be more explicit, and not have made clear to the victim that he was HIV positive? Asked Me Begeot. “I lacked courage,” replied Mr. Baudard.

The thesis, described as “unworthy” by Mr. Pheulpin did not seem to convince general counsel Claude Palpacuer, who encouraged the accused to “take his responsibilities “and to” give the victim the answers she expects “.

Assises : transmission volontaire du Sida?

Emmanuel Baudard a-t-il sciemment transmis à sa compagne le virus du sida ? La cour d’assises du Bas-Rhin examine jusqu’à vendredi une question encore rarement soulevée devant une telle juridiction, en raison de la difficulté à établir l’infraction, enfouie dans l’intimité des couples .

M. Baudard, âgé de 40 ans, comparaît pour administration de substance nuisible suivie d’infirmité permanente par concubin. Il est accusé d’avoir délibérément caché à sa compagne sa séropositivité, qu’il connaissait depuis 1989, et de lui avoir transmis en 1999 le virus en sachant le risque qu’il lui faisait courir.

Magali Gillmann avait appris sa séropositivité en décembre 1999, mais ce n’est qu’après sa séparation d’avec M. Baudard, en 2003, qu’elle a compris qu’il était au courant de sa maladie à l’époque de leur relation, ce qui l’a conduite à porter plainte en janvier 2007.

Le fait que l’accusé ait été le compagnon de la victime lors de la commission des faits est une circonstance aggravante, qui alourdit la peine encourue de 10 à 15 années de réclusion criminelle, ce qui explique sa comparution devant les assises.

Selon Barbara Wagner, présidente de l’association Femmes positives, créée en 2003 pour soutenir les victimes de contamination volontaire, c’est la deuxième fois dans les annales judiciaires françaises qu’une cour d’assises se penche sur une affaire de ce type. En 2008, la cour d’assises du Loiret a condamné une femme accusée d’avoir contaminé son mari à cinq ans de prison avec sursis.

D’autres cas ont été jugés devant des tribunaux correctionnels, mais ils sont semble-t-il rares, l’association ayant pour sa part suivi une “quinzaine de personnes”.
“Il y a beaucoup de non-lieux. Et les victimes ont souvent à faire à des associations qui sont contre ce genre de procédures”, explique Mme Wagner, présente dans le public à l’audience de Strasbourg. L’association de lutte contre le sida Act up, s’est ainsi élevée contre la “pénalisation de la transmission du VIH”.

“Ce sont des dossiers complexes, d’abord pour des raisons de droit: il y a des conditions requises pour caractériser l’infraction compliquées à réunir. Cela tient aussi à la nature même des faits: on touche à l’intime”, a dit à l’AFP Yannick Pheulpin, avocat de la partie civile. Les débats ont mis en exergue jeudi ces difficultés, conduisant les jurés à se pencher sur l’intimité des relations de deux partenaires qui tiennent aujourd’hui des versions contradictoires.

La plaignante a raconté avoir toujours eu avec M. Baudard des rapports sexuels protégés, à l’exception d’une fois, où il lui aurait assuré qu’elle n’avait rien à craindre.
L’accusé, s’il a reconnu qu’il se savait porteur du virus du sida, a soutenu avoir contaminé sa compagne sur un quiproquo, et par lâcheté. “Je lui ai dit que je ne pouvais pas le faire sans préservatif, elle m’a dit ‘ça craint plus rien’, on l’a fait. Pour moi, ça voulait dire qu’elle était comme moi”, a-t-il dit à la cour.

“Vous avez péché par optimisme”, a commenté son avocat Hervé Begeot. Pourquoi ne pas avoir été plus explicite, et ne pas avoir dit clairement à la victime qu’il était séropositif ?, a demandé Me Begeot. “J’ai manqué de courage”, a répondu M. Baudard.

La thèse, qualifiée d'”indigne” par Me Pheulpin n’a guère semblé convaincre l’avocat général Claude Palpacuer, qui a encouragé l’accusé à “prendre ses responsabilités” et à “donner à la victime les réponses qu’elle attend”.