Thu | Jan 19, 2017

Ffriend gets three years

Published:Saturday | September 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jamaican basketballer Kimani Ffriend was yesterday sentenced by the Superior Court in Belgrade, Serbia, to three years imprisonment for the death of Nevena Dragutinovic.

Dragutinovic, a 30-year-old account executive, was struck by a car being driven by the Jamaican in Belgrade at about 4 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, 2012. The incident occurred shortly after the woman alighted from a taxicab.

Ffriend, 37, who has been under house arrest since August 2013, after being jailed for more than 10 months, had faced the possibility of up to 12 years' imprisonment, but under Serbian law he could be free in a year or less, The Gleaner understands. In fact, he will not see anymore jail time as he is expected to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.

Banned from driving

The Superior Court in Belgrade has also banned Ffriend from driving for two years. Ffriend's attorney said he would appeal the verdict.

Despite the verdict, Ffriend was grateful. "I give God all the glory. What they say happened is not what happened and I was found guilty for that. It's hard to accept but it could have been worse and I am looking at the positives," he said yesterday.

According to media reports in Serbia, the court ruled that the decision was arrived at based on Ffriend's blood alcohol level and that his vehicle was travelling at 55 kph (approximately 31 mph) when he ran a traffic light just before hitting the woman, who was the girlfriend of Neven Zivancevic, a popular Serbian singer.

Ffriend's lawyers had argued that even if their client had not been intoxicated he would have not have been able to avoid hitting Draguntinovic because she had alighted from the taxi in the middle of the road and that given the speed he was travelling he would not have had much more than two seconds to recognise what was happening and take evasive action.

Ffriend last represented Jamaica at the Centro Basketball Championships in the summer of 2012 when Jamaica historically qualified for the FIBA Championships of the Americas.

-Leighton Levy