ASAP Rocky testifies at trial in Sweden that he tried to avoid fight
American rapper ASAP Rocky testified Thursday at his assault trial in Sweden that he did everything possible to avoid conflict with two men he said persistently followed his entourage in Stockholm, saying that one of the men picked a fight with one of his bodyguards.
Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, is accused along with two other men believed to be members of his entourage of beating 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari on the streets of central Stockholm on the evening of June 30.
Mayers testified in Stockholm District Court that Jafari and his friend refused to leave the entourage alone despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
He said the situation became tense after Jafari got into an argument with one of Mayers’ bodyguards near a fast-food restaurant as the rapper’s entourage stopped to rent electric scooters, which are widely available on the streets of Stockholm.
“After a while, my security guard started pushing him [Jafari] away, begging him to leave,” said Mayers, who appeared in court wearing an all-green inmate uniform. He testified that he and his entourage just wanted to “deescalate” the situation.
“Me and my crew told them that, listen, don’t go where we are going, go the other way, we don’t want any trouble,” Mayers said. But he said that Jafari was persistent and would not back away.
“I assumed that these guys were under the influence of some kind of drug,” Mayers told the court.
With rapper ASAP Rocky’s assault trial set to reconvene Thursday in Stockholm, here’s a look at the key differences in the U.S. and Swedish justice systems.
A full-scale brawl ensued shortly afterward on a nearby side street, and prosecutors allege that Mayers and the two other suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground. They said Jafari was hit with parts of or a whole bottle.
The rapper, 30, pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial Tuesday, saying he acted in self-defense.
The trial has created a stir in U.S.-Swedish diplomatic relations after President Trump weighed in on the case in support of the Grammy-nominated artist.
Testimony was also expected Thursday from the alleged victim, his friend, witnesses and Mayers’ bodyguard.
The rapper’s mother, Renee Black, and several of his relatives were present at the courtroom.
The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities and Mayers’ fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign for his release, #JusticeForRocky, was created soon after his arrest.
Trump has spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on the phone, offering to personally guarantee ASAP Rocky’s bail, but the Swedish leader said he couldn’t interfere in a legal case.
Sweden doesn’t have a bail system and Mayers has stayed behind bars despite Trump’s intervention. Trump has sent Ambassador Robert O. Brien, the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, to Sweden to monitor the court proceedings.
If convicted, Mayers faces up to two years in prison.
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