SYDNEY: Two peace activists who were jailed and fined for painting a giant anti-war slogan on Sydney's iconic Opera House will go to court later this month to seek the return of their paint can and brushes.

Will Saunders and David Burgess were sentenced to spend their weekends in jail for nine months for malicious damage after they painted `NO WAR' in huge dripping red letters on the landmark building on March 18, 2003, as Australian troops prepared to join the invasion of Iraq.

They were also ordered to pay $(A)151,000 (upwards of Rs. 51 lakhs) to clean up the damage. The pair raised the money through a series of fundraisers and by selling Opera House `No War' snow globes, refrigerator magnets, drink holders and other items of "quality kitsch," according to their Internet site.

Now Saunders and Burgess want to auction their paint can and brushes to raise money for humanitarian causes in Iraq. But the police have applied for a court order to have the items destroyed, saying an auction would violate laws prohibiting convicts from profiting from their crimes.

"I think we can raise many, many thousands of dollars," Saunders said. "We'd be happy to come to any reasonable arrangement with the police about how this auction takes place... It's just mean beyond belief, petty-minded just to destroy it."

The pair will appear in Sydney's Central Local Court on January 16 seeking to have the can and brushes returned. - AP