Arms fair protester faces trial

By staff writers
10 Jan 2012

An arms trade protester arrested at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair in September 2011 will go on trial next week.

His has been summoned to appear at 10am on Monday 16th January 2012 at Westminster Magistrates Court.

Chris Cole (48) from Oxford was arrested for spraying ‘DSEi Kills’ and ‘Stop the Arms Trade’ at the entrance to the arms fair as delegates queued to enter.

He has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges of Criminal Damage arguing that he was acting to prevent the unlawful activity that was taking place at the arms fair.

The DSEi arms fair takes place at the ExCel Center in London’s Docklands every two years.

Five countries attending the fair were listed by the UK Foreign Office as countries with "the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns". These are Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

Researchers and activists have repeatedly found equipment advertised for sale at the arms fair which are in breach of UK Export Control regulations.

At the September 2011 exhibition both cluster munitions and illegal leg irons and ‘transport restraint’ equipment were being offered for sale.

Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International’s Arms Programme Director, an acknowledged expert in international export control regulations will give evidence at the trial on behalf of the defence.

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."

A support vigil for Chris Cole will take place before the trial outside the court from 9.15am.

[Ekk/2]

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