Ffriend returns to court
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Jamaican basketball player Kimani Ffriend is to appear in a court in Serbia today where he could be facing a verdict on the vehicular manslaughter charge he faces arising from an incident in November 2012, when the car he was driving hit and killed a woman on the streets of Belgrade.
Ffriend, 35, was hoping to secure a basketball contract in Serbia that would see him finish out his professional career in style.
What he found instead was a nightmare that saw him being jailed for more than 10 months and has now been under house arrest for a year.
He told The Gleaner he is going into court prepared for anything.
"I am actually in a good place right now mentally because my trust is in God with all these matters, so I am at peace with whatever His will is," said Ffriend.
Prosecutors are arguing that the six-foot-11-inch centre was drunk at the time of the accident - his blood alcohol level was reportedly 0.098 - and that he ran yellow flashing traffic lights, moments later hitting Nevena Dragutinovic, a 30-year-old Serbian account executive, who had just alighted from a taxi cab that reportedly stopped in the middle of the street.
However, an expert witness testified that even if the Jamaican was sober he would not have been able to avoid hitting Dragutinovic, who was also intoxicated after being out celebrating with her boyfriend, who is a popular singer in Serbia, and her sister.
The expert testified that Ffriend, who was travelling at about 50kph (30mph), had approximately 2.2 seconds to see the woman, brake and swerve to avoid her.
The beleaguered basketball player also revealed that he feels more assured now that the Jamaica Government is behind him.
"The Government did what they could do diplomatically ... . I knew they could not intervene legally and I was satisfied with that. I would hope that the letter went through the proper channels and made whosoever is reading it know that I have a voice and that I am not alone and that my country is watching and they are supporting me through all this."