Saturday, January 30, 2016

Indian Maoist leader jailed for 23 years in UK for raping followers

Aravindan Balakrishnan, a 75-year-old Indian-origin man who ran a secretive extremist Maoist cult here, was today sentenced to 23 years in jail by a UK court for a string of sexual assaults, rape, and imprisonment of his own daughter for three decades.

Balakrishnan, known to his followers as Comrade Bala, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London for six counts of indecent assault, four counts of rape and two counts of actual bodily harm.

He had been convicted following a jury trial in December last year where it emerged that he had kept his daughter in captivity for over 30 years of her life.

The 33-year-old daughter, who said she had been a "non- person" throughout her life, today choose a new identity for herself and described her situation as "horrible, dehumanising and degrading".

Katy Morgan-Davies, a new name of her choosing, told the BBC, "I felt like a caged bird with clipped wings. The people he looked up to were people like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein - you couldn't criticise them either in the house. They were his gods and his heroes. These were the sort of people he wanted to emulate".

She had told the court she was beaten and banned from singing nursery rhymes, going to school or making friends.

Sentencing Balakrishnan, the judge said, "You decided to treat her as a project, not a person. You claimed to do it for her to protect her from the outside world, but you created a cruel environment".

The judge also recommended a donation of 500 pounds to Palm Cove Society charity which helped Morgan-Davies escape.

Balakrishnan's wife, Chanda, who had lived with him as part of the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought for nearly 30 years had claimed earlier this week that his conviction was a "frame-up".

She had been unaware that her husband had fathered a daughter with his devoted follower Sian Davies and kept her confined in a London flat for years, spending her entire life until the age of 30 effectively imprisoned in the commune ruled by her father.

Balakrishnan had denied charges of rape and told the jury that he was "the focus of competition" between "jealous" women who made sexual advances towards him.

The sentencing ends an over two-year police investigation into a case which Scotland Yard detectives described as "completely unique".

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