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CRIME

Thousands sign petition to release US rapper ASAP Rocky from Swedish custody

An online petition calling for the release of US rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden suspected of assault after a street brawl, has gained more than 470,000 signatories in 24 hours.

Thousands sign petition to release US rapper ASAP Rocky from Swedish custody
ASAP Rocky performing in Sweden back in 2013. Photo: Christine Olsson / SCANPIX/TT

The petition #JusticeForRocky was launched on the website change.org on Tuesday and a day later had amassed over 470,000 signatories, according to the website. Several other smaller petitions have also been launched on the site.

Last week a Swedish district court decided the 30-year-old, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, should be kept in custody while prosecutors investigate a June 30th brawl, as he was considered a “flight risk”. Mayers' lawyer Henrik Olsson Lilja appealed the decision, but the court of appeal ruled against them and the Swedish supreme court declined to consider the case.

The district court's decision means Mayers can be held in custody for two weeks, while the case is investigated, forcing the rapper to cancel several dates on his European tour. After two weeks, it would require another hearing to extend his detention.

According to the petition, the rapper was acting in self defence, and his detention while the case is being investigated constituted a violation of his rights.

“To keep Rocky and his colleagues in jail pending the lengthy trial proceedings is a punishment before the fact, with no due process,” the petition argues.

It also claimed that the rapper was being held under “inhumane conditions”, alleging “24/7 solitary confinement, restriction of amenities for the most basic of human functions, access to palatable and life sustaining food as well as unsanitary conditions”.

The director of the Kronoberg remand prison, where the rapper is being held, issued a statement denying the allegations about the state of the facility.

The remand prison had been recently refurbished and was in “good condition”, said Fredrik Wallin — but he could not speak about “individual clients”, his statement added.

Mayers was born in New York and had a breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape “Live. Love. ASAP”. He followed that up in 2013 with the debut album “Long. Live. ASAP”. 

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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