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Ex-PM Bird guilty

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Ex-PM Bird guilty

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Former prime minister of Antigua Lester Bird is among seven members of the main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) found guilty of contravening sections of the Public Order Act.
Senior Magistrate Ivan Walter fined the seven EC$1,500 (US$555) each.
The Magistrate told Bird, parliamentarians Gaston Browne and Molwyn Joseph, ALP secretary Mary-Claire Hurst, Vere Bird Jnr, Sharon Kentish, and Jim Galloway that they pay two-thirds of the amount, EC$1,000 (US$370) by Thursday or serve a nine-month prison term.
Browne, who is also Chairman of the opposition party, said an appeal would be filed against the ruling.
“We are not appealing because of the dollar amount, but our appeal is based on principle,” he said. “This matter goes to the heart of the principle of freedom of speech. We will appeal, and we will get justice,” he added.
The seven ALP members had been charged with contravening sections of the Public Order Act when they addressed an Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) rally on Labour Day 2009.
The AT is aligned to the ALP and Browne told reporters that the matter involved what was essentially a family dispute that involved no rancour, and no public disturbances, and therefore ought not to have been taken before the courts.
“I have been a member of the Point and Villa section of the AT&LU, and I take objection to any assertion that I am not a member of the union. I feel offended and I feel that my rights have been trampled upon,” he said. (CMC)