A Christian peace campaigner who was arrested for protesting at an international arms fair, is set to stand trial.
Chris Cole, 48, from Oxford, is to appear before Magistrates next week to face charges of criminal damage, after spraying ‘Stop the Arms Trade’ at the entrance to an arms fair as delegates queued to enter.
Cole who is closely linked to the Catholic worker movement, was protesting outside the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair last September.
He also sprayed ‘DSEi kills’.
He has already entered a plea of not guilty, arguing that he was acting to prevent unlawful activity.
Now he will appear at 10am on Monday 16th January 2012 at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The DSEi arms fair is held in London’s Docklands every two years, and researchers have repeatedly found equipment advertised for sale, which are in breach of UK export regulations.
Reports claim that in the September 2011 exhibition, cluster munitions, illegal leg irons and ‘transport restraint’ equipment were being offered for sale.
Among the visitors to the fair were Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, all listed by the UK Foreign Office as giving "the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns".
Chris Cole said: “The DSEi arms fair is a key component of the international arms trade that is responsible for thousands of deaths each year and must be stopped. If the authorities refuse to act, individuals have a responsibility to prevent such unlawful activity."
This is not the first brush with the law for Cole, who is already being faced with a 10-year ASBO preventing him from entering the Westminster area.
If granted, the ASBO will ban Cole from being in the City of Westminster except while passing through as a passenger on the London Underground; being in possession of any can of spray paint, tin of paint, marker pen, chalk or charcoal in any place outside the city of Oxford or being in possession of bolt croppers in any place outside the city of Oxford.
The application for the ASBO sites fourteen occasions over the past twenty-one years that Cole has been arrested at anti-war protests involving spray paint or bolt croppers.
Chris Cole said “Waging war is the great anti-social behaviour of our time. Thousands of people have been killed and injured in the great follies of the Iraq and Afghanistan war, while billions have been wasted on preparations for nuclear war and arms companies continue to make vast profits from hawking weaponry around the globe. Rather than spraying bullets in Iraq or spilling blood in Afghanistan, I have spilled paint on the Downing Street pavement and sprayed paint on the MoD walls. In all honesty, which is the real anti-social behaviour here?”
A support vigil for Chris Cole will take place before the trial outside Westminster Magistrates court from on Monday 16th of January at 9.15am.
January 11th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross