Ffriend retrial starts July 13
Jamaican basketball player Kimani Ffriend heads back to court on July 13 when it is believed he will be re-tried on a vehicular manslaughter charge.
Ffriend, who represented Jamaica at the Centro Basketball Championships in the summer of 2012, was incarcerated in Serbia just months later after the car he was driving struck and killed 30-year-old account executive Nevena Dragutinovic on November 3. His blood alcohol level showed he had been drinking .
After nearly two years in custody, Ffriend was found guilty and in September 2014 he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. The story made headlines across Serbia because of the Jamaican's star status in that country and the fact that Novena was the girlfriend of a popular singer.
Ffriend, who was in a Serbian prison for 10 months, was in August 2013 removed from prison but was placed under house arrest. His lawyers appealed the verdict before an appeal panel of three judges. In their almost 50-page filing, Tinto Yugoslav and Branislav Manic cited several weaknesses in the prosecution's case that were apparently not taken into consideration by the presiding judge in the initial trial. The judges agreed and threw out the verdict.
The judges highlighted five key points that needed to be addressed. The Gleaner understands that the judges were not clear as to how the judge arrived at her verdict nor was she clear as to how she arrived at the decisions she made during the trial.
The judges also agreed that Ffriend's version of the events of that fateful night were very possible, especially when they considered that the expert witnesses in their testimony virtually agreed on the plausibility of what the Jamaican told the court. The judge did not mention this in her written judgement.
Ffriend said his lawyers believe the arguments raised by the appeal panel strengthen his case.
Meantime, officials from the Jamaican embassy in Germany, who have been monitoring the proceedings in Serbia are to meet with Ffriend's attorney in Serbia today during which they will be updated on the case.