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Arms fair protester facing trial

Chris Cole's DSEi trial postponed to March 2012

On 16 January, Chris Cole, 48, a peace activist from Oxford, appeared before Westminster magistrates’ court in Marylebone Road, London, to be tried for a protest at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair in September 2011. Chris was arrested for spraying “DSEi Kills” and “Stop the arms trade” at the entrance to the fair, as delegates queued to enter. 

Chris, who has pleaded “not guilty” to charges of criminal damage, was prepared to argue that he was acting to prevent unlawful activity taking place at the arms fair. The crown prosecution service had agreed that he could call Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International’s arms programme director, as an expert witness, but the paperwork from the earlier case management hearing had been lost, meaning that the trial had to be postponed to March.

Chris was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment in January 2011 for non-payment of a fine relating to a similar protest at DSEi 2009. It was his fifth imprisonment for nonviolent civil disobedience.

Chris Cole coordinates the Christian peace group Figtree: www.figtree.org.uk