U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky tells court he tried to avoid Stockholm fight


STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky told a Swedish court on Thursday he had tried to avoid the fight in downtown Stockholm that landed him in custody and facing a charge of assault.

A courtroom sketch shows Rakim Athelaston Mayers alias ASAP Rocky (in green shirt) and his defence lawyer Slobodan Jovicic during the second day of ASAP Rocky’s trial, at the district court in Stockholm, Sweden August 1, 2019. Anna-Lena Lindqvist/TT News Agency via REUTERS

The case has drawn huge media attention as celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rod Stewart, have defended the 30-year-old performer, producer and model, and U.S. President Donald Trump asked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to help free him.

Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was detained following a brawl outside a hamburger restaurant in Stockholm on June 30. Two of his entourage were also charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.

All three pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial on Tuesday with Mayers’ lawyer saying the rapper acted in self-defense.

Giving testimony for the first time Mayers said he had been scared after his group was followed by the plaintiff, a 19-year-old man, and his friend.

“We wanted to defuse the situation and get away from these guys,” Mayers told the court.

When the two men attacked Mayers’ bodyguard, he reacted, grabbing 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari and throwing him to the ground.

“At this point I intervened. I threw him to the ground, and stepped on his arm, kicked him. I punched or shoved him,” Mayers said.

On Tuesday, Jafari told the court he had been pushed and grabbed by the neck by Mayers’ bodyguard outside a restaurant and followed the rapper’s group to get back a pair of headphones.

He said he was then hit on the head with a bottle and kicked and punched by the three men while he was on the ground.

Jafari continued his testimony on Thursday morning.

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.

The trial is scheduled to end on Friday. The court will then announce a date for the verdict and say whether Mayers must remain in custody until that time.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; writing by Johan Ahlander, Anna Ringstrom and Simon Johnson, Editing by Janet Lawrence and Jon Boyle

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