An acupuncturist who infected patients with the HIV virus has been jailed for almost 13 years by a Swiss court. The court said his motive for spreading the disease remained unclear.
The Bern regional court on Friday sentenced the 54-year-old to a total of 12 years and nine months after it ruled that he had knowingly injected 16 victims with HIV infected blood. He was convicted for grievous bodily harm and the spreading of disease.
"The accused and no one else is responsible for the infection of these 16 people," presiding judge Urs Essen was quoted as saying by the Swiss SDA news agency.
Prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence for the natural healer, whose identity and nationality were not revealed, in accordance with Swiss criminal proceedings.
The case only came to light after a HIV-positive patient told a hospital he believed his infection might be linked to his acupuncture treatments.
Most of those infected were students at a music school that the man owned alongside the practice. Blood analysis revealed that the victims had all been infected with the same strain of blood. The victims were infected with the virus, which causes AIDS, between 2001 and 2005.
While the man’s motive remained unclear, Essen said it might have been to seek attention, exact revenge, or to achieve a sense of power. The healer claimed to have been the victim of a conspiracy, contesting that all the victims contracted the disease through unprotected sex and intravenous drug use.
Some victims told the court they had been stabbed with a needle by the man during the acupuncture treatment. All of the victims are still alive.
Proceedings took a dramatic twist last week when police stormed the man’s home, where he had barricaded himself armed with a knife after failing to attend the hearing.
rc/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)