An Indian-born man who led a secret extremist Maoist sect in London and was sentenced to 23 years in prison by a British court for a series of sexual assaults six years ago has died in prison.
Aravindan Balakrishnan, known to his supporters as Comrade Bala, was convicted of six counts of indecent assault, four counts of rape and two counts of actual bodily harm in 2016.
The 81-year-old man convicted of “brutal” violence died in police custody at HMP Dartmoor prison in south-west England on Friday, the British prison service said.
The cult leader was convicted after a jury trial in December 2015, where it emerged he had kept his daughter captive for more than 30 years of her life.
The girl described her situation in court as “horrible, dehumanizing and degrading”.
Sentencing Balakrishnan in January 2016, the judge said: “You decided to treat her like a project, not a person. You pretended to do it for her to protect her from the outside world, but you created a cruel environment. “
Balakrishnan, born in a village in Kerala, lived and grew up in Singapore and Malaysia before moving to the UK in 1963 to study at the London School of Economics.
It was there that he met Chanda, whom he married in 1969 around the time he started his collective.
Scotland Yard raided the couple’s flat in Brixton, south London, in November 2013 after two followers called the charity Palm Cove Society for help.
Balakrishnan had denied the rape charges and told the jury he was “at the center of a competition” between “jealous” women who made sexual advances towards him.
The conviction follows a lengthy investigation into a case Scotland Yard detectives have described as “completely unique”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Manson, of the Metropolitan Police’s Organized Crime Command, said at the time: ‘It seems extraordinary that Balakrishnan could exercise such control over so many people, but all of the victims have told us in detail that they truly believed his claims of power and greatness and the threats he made to them, they all described feelings of fear and being totally controlled by him.
“All the women have faced tremendous challenges adjusting to everyday life since leaving Balakrishnan’s control, but with the support of a number of charities and professionals, they are doing outstanding progress and their bravery deserves recognition and praise,” he added.
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