UK police charge 74-year-old man in case of 3 enslaved women

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LONDON — A man who led an obscure Maoist collective and allegedly held three women against their will in a London house for 30 years has been charged with 25 offenses including rape, police said Thursday.

Police said Aravindan Balakrishnan, 74, was charged with false imprisonment, rape, cruelty to a person under 16 years old and indecent assault. The charges, spanning from 1980 to 2013, relate to three women who were freed from a south London house last year after decades of alleged "emotional control" and domestic servitude.

At the time, police described the case as the largest-ever modern-day slavery case in Britain.

Balakrishnan, known as "Comrade Bala," led the Maoist collective in the late 1970s. Police said he and another suspect, a 67-year-old woman, shared a political ideology with the three victims, who were reportedly a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old Briton.

Police believe the victims lived together with the two suspects in what appeared to be a communist collective. The three victims were believed to have been physically abused and subject to close control, police added.

Balakrishnan was arrested in November 2013 along with the other suspect, reportedly his wife. She was released without charge in September.

Balakrishnan is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Wednesday.

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