Man faces rape and cruelty charges
A Maoist activist has appeared in court charged with 25 offences including rape and child cruelty.
Aravindan Balakrishnan, 74, is also accused of false imprisonment and 19 counts of indecent assault in charges relating to three women between January 1980 and October 2013.
Appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London today, his lawyer, Adam Wiseman, indicated that Balakrishnan would plead not guilty to the alleged offences.
Balakrishnan, of Latymer Road, Edmonton, north London, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address during the brief 20-minute hearing.
He stood alone in the dock dressed in a blue waterproof jacket, grey cardigan and peach-coloured scarf, wearing glasses and with his grey hair in a mullet style.
Speaking in a strained voice, with a foreign accent, he was forced to repeat his date of birth after initially telling the court the wrong date.
Balakrishnan, who was arrested in Lambeth, south London, in November last year, faces one count of cruelty to a person under the age of 16, one count of false imprisonment, 19 counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape.
The child cruelty charge states that between January 6 1983 and January 7 1999 Balakrishnan "wilfully ill-treated, assaulted, and neglected" a child in a manner "likely to cause unnecessary suffering to the said child or injury to its health".
A 67-year-old woman, understood to be Balakrishnan's wife, Chanda Pattni, was arrested with him in November last year.
In September, after 10 months on bail, she was told she would face no further action and was released without charge.
District Judge Howard Riddle said the case against Balakrishnan involved "manifestly serious allegations" as the next hearing was set for Southwark Crown Court in London on December 31.
"There are 25 separate allegations against you," the judge said. "These allegations are sent for trial to Southwark Crown Court and you have bail with conditions."
Mr Wiseman said he would be applying to adjourn the next hearing to the week starting January 5.
Balakrishnan was released on bail with conditions that he must live and sleep at his home address, not apply for international travel documents, not contact five women, who cannot be named, and not enter Lambeth unless accompanied by his solicitor.