New Internationalist

New Internationalist contributor arrested for telling the truth

Chris Cole, who gave us the lowdown on military drones in our December 2011 issue on the Arms Trade, is due to go on trial at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday 16 January 2012.

He was arrested in September last year while protesting against the notorious Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair that was taking place in London Docklands. He had sprayed ‘DSEi Kills’ and ‘Stop the Arms Trade’ at the entrance to the fair as delegates queued to enter. This somehow constitutes Criminal Damage in the eyes of the prosecution. Such peaceful actions are also supposed to cause ‘alarm and distress’ among the general public, whereas it is assumed that the murder business he was protesting against ruffles no feathers.

Cole is pleading ‘not guilty’, arguing that his actions were to prevent the criminal activity taking place at the fair. The DSEi arms fair is a repeat offender in pushing prohibited weaponry that is in breach of UK Export Control regulations and this year’s event was no different with cluster munitions, illegal leg irons and ‘transport restraint’ equipment being offered for sale.  

Further, delegations from five countries that are listed by the British Foreign Office as having ‘the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns’ were among the shoppers browsing the lethal merchandize – Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

The police are pressing for an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) against Cole which would bar him from walking Westminster’s streets as also carrying spray-paint, chalk and charcoal (!) anywhere apart from his home town – for 10 years.     

A support vigil will take place before the trial outside the court at 9.15am.  

Westminster Magistrates Court is at 181 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5BR. 

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