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Wife of cult leader convicted of rape says he was "framed"

Aravindan Balakrishnan
Aravindan Balakrishnan

The wife of a Maoist cult leader due to be sentenced on Friday for raping two of his followers and imprisoning his daughter for 30 years has said his conviction is a "frame-up".

Chanda Balakrishnan is standing by her husband Aravindan, 75, who faces jail for a string of sex attacks and for cruelty towards his daughter, whom he secretly fathered with another woman.

His trial at London's Southwark Crown Court heard harrowing details of how he ruled his tiny sect, the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, with an iron fist.

Known to his small coterie of female followers as Comrade Bala, he fathered a child with one of his devotees, Sian Davies, a former pupil at Cheltenham Ladies' College.

But growing up, the girl, known as Fran, was told she was a "waif" adopted by the group. Shown no affection and relentlessly bullied and beaten, she was banned from going to school, making friends, and even leaving the cult's home unaccompanied.

Mrs Balakrishnan told The Times she was "shocked" that her husband had fathered a child with someone else - but brushed it off as a "mistake". She added: "For 99.99% of the time he is loving me and not these other people."

Jurors heard that Balakrishnan brainwashed his followers into thinking he was god-like.

He manipulated and terrorised them into following his every command, and invented an invisible war machine called Jackie which he said could kill people and trigger natural disasters if anyone went against him.

But his wife insisted he is innocent. She told The Times: "It was a frame-up. If (the women) were genuinely in fear, they could have left at any time. They both went out to work every day."

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, was found guilty of six counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape.

He was also convicted of two counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under 16, and false imprisonment.

Following the guilty verdicts, Judge Deborah Taylor told the grey-haired pensioner he faces a "substantial custodial sentence".