LONDON - A couple who allegedly held three women as "slaves" in a London house for 30 years were prominent Maoist activists in the 1970s, according to media reports on Monday.
The couple, named by British newspapers as Indian-born Aravindan Balakrishnan and his Tanzanian wife Chanda, were arrested Thursday after their three alleged captives were freed in a police operation.
One of the victims, aged 30, is believed to have spent her entire life in servitude.
It was also reported in Britain's press on Tuesday that a female member of the sect died after falling from a bathroom window at the house in 1996.
Police are looking into the death of Sian Davies, 44, who fell two floors on Christmas Eve. She was left paralysed and died in August 1997.
A Marxist history website said Balakrishnan, 73, was a high-ranking member of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) but had been suspended in 1974 because of the "conspiratorial and splittist activities" of his "clique".
The website also said Balakrishnan, dubbed "Comrade Bala", had been arrested in 1978 along with his wife during an attempt by police to shut down a Maoist centre in south London's Brixton area.
Police have confirmed the couple were arrested in the 1970s, but have not said why.
Detectives have refused to confirm the identities of the couple, who have been bailed until January pending further investigations.
The three "slaves" - a 57-year-old Irish woman, a Malaysian aged 69 and the 30-year-old Briton - were freed on October 25 after one of them secretly contacted a charity.
Police said the women, who are believed to have been living in a flat in Brixton, were brainwashed and had reported being beating, but did not appear to have been sexually abused.
They were occasionally allowed out of the house and detectives are working to understand the "invisible handcuffs" that were used to control them.