STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The trial in Sweden of U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky on a charge of assault went into what is likely to be its final day on Friday, with the 30-year-old and two of his entourage facing up to two years in prison if they are found guilty.
A courtroom sketch shows Rakim Athelaston Mayers alias ASAP Rocky and his defence lawyer Slobodan Jovicic during the third day of ASAP Rocky’s trial, at the district court in Stockholm, Sweden August 2, 2019. Anna Harvard/TT News Agency via REUTERS
A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was detained on July 3 in connection with a brawl outside a hamburger restaurant in Stockholm on June 30 and later charged.
The case has drawn huge media attention, particularly since U.S. President Donald Trump began advocating on behalf of Mayers, asking Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to help free him. Sweden’s judiciary is independent of the political system, and Lofven has said he will not influence the rapper’s case.
The prosecution says that following an argument, Mayers threw a 19-year-old man to the ground, after which he and two of his entourage kicked and punched him.
Mayers and his companions pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial on Tuesday, saying they had acted in self-defense. Mayers in testimony on Thursday said he had tried to avoid the fight.
He said he had acted after the alleged victim and his friend attacked the rapper’s bodyguard.
The alleged victim, Mustafa Jafari, has said during testimony he was also hit on the head with a bottle after he followed Mayers’s group.
Mayers had on Friday swapped prison clothes for a black suit and white shirt, looking more relaxed than the first two days of the trial.
The trial has attracted great public interest, and the court since Thursday has had an extra room set up for the public to watch it through video link. The courtroom gallery is itself reserved for media and defendants’ family members.
Friday will see witnesses testify before lawyers and the prosecutor sum up their arguments.
Unless the trial is extended, the judge will then decide whether Mayers and his companions remain in custody pending the verdict, which is likely to come at a later date.
Releasing him from custody could indicate that Mayers will be found not guilty or that a guilty verdict would lead only to a suspended sentence or a prison sentence shorter than the time the rapper has already spent in a cell.
A legal expert at the Prosecution Authority said that if the judge decides not to detain Mayers further, he will be free to leave the country.
Mayers, best known for his song “Praise the Lord”, was in Stockholm for a concert. He has canceled several shows across Europe due to his detention.
Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Writing by Simon Johnson and Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Peter Graff and Hugh Lawson