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Son of former Antiguan minister convicted in driving deaths

AP

Sunday, February 05, 2006    

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) - A member of one of Antigua's most influential political families was convicted of causing the deaths of two young women by reckless driving, the prosecutor's office said yesterday.

Vere Bird III was driving the women - Alicia Pereira, 20, and her adopted sister, Halima Khayun, 21 - when he crashed into two utility poles on September 18, 2004. The women died instantly from their injuries.

A jury convicted Bird last Monday of causing death by dangerous driving. He was fined US$25,000 (euro21,000), said Adlai Smith, a lawyer in the prosecution office who didn't work on the case.

The fine will be paid in the next few weeks, said Bird's father, Vere Bird Jr, a former agriculture minister.

The Bird family has dominated Antiguan politics since the 1950s, when the late Vere Bird Snr was a revolutionary labour leader defying British colonisers to demand higher wages for cane cutters.

The elder Bird led his country to independence in 1981 and was prime minister until retiring in 1994, when his son, Lester Bird, won elections.

Lester Bird, the brother of Vere Bird Jr, served as prime minister until 2004.

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