ASAP Rocky found guilty of assaulting man in Stockholm

AFP/The Local
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ASAP Rocky found guilty of assaulting man in Stockholm
ASAP Rocky at a gig in New York last year. Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

A unanimous Swedish court on Wednesday found US rapper ASAP Rocky guilty of assaulting another man in Stockholm in June.


Stockholm District Court handed the rapper and his two friends, who were also found guilty of assault, suspended sentences, which means they will not have to return to Sweden to serve time in jail.

"In regard to sentencing, the court finds that there are both aggravating and extenuating circumstances. In an overall assessment the court finds that the assault has not been of such a serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen," stated the court on Wednesday.

Due to the time the trio spent in detention in Stockholm before they were released pending the verdict, the court did not impose a fine. It did however order them to pay the plaintiff 12,500 kronor ($1,300) in damages, according to the judgement seen by The Local.

READ ALSO: How does Sweden's criminal justice system work?

The 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and two members of his entourage were in Stockholm for a concert when they got embroiled in a row with the victim, a 19-year-old man.

They "assaulted the victim by hitting and kicking him as he lay on the ground. The artist also threw the victim to the ground and stepped on his arm," the court wrote in a statement.

It rejected the defendants' claim that they had acted in self-defence, saying they had not been in situation where they were subject to an ongoing or imminent criminal attack.

"Therefore, they were not in a situation where they were entitled to use violence in self-defence. Nor could they have perceived themselves to be in such a situation," the court wrote.

Presiding judge Per Lennerbrant explaining the verdict on Wednesday. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Much of the trial focused on whether a bottle was used as the plaintiff suffered cuts that medical examiners said seemed to be from glass. But the court said that an attack using a glass bottle had not been proven.

"The overall evidentiary situation in the case has been complex. The prosecutor has not been able to prove that the victim was struck in the back of the head with a bottle or that he was in any other way assaulted with bottles. This has affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime," said the presiding judge Per Lennerbrant.

Mayers' lawyer Slobodan Jovicic told a press conference that he and his client were "disappointed" but that it was too early to say if they would appeal the verdict. 

Asked if he could promise Mayers' Swedish fans that he would return to Sweden in the future, Jovicic said: "I know he'll be back. 100 percent."

Considered a "flight risk", Mayers was held in custody for a month while the case was investigated and throughout his trial.

But he was released after the close of proceedings on August 2nd, and immediately returned to the United states.

A campaign poster calling for ASAP Rocky's release in Stockholm last month. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Fans, fellow artists and even Donald Trump had called for his release – with the US president's intervention drawing complaints from Swedish politicians.

US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Robert C O'Brien, who attended the trial, told reporters: "The president felt they shouldn't have been detained, they were stalked."

An online petition also called #JusticeForRocky garnered more than 640,000 signatures and supporters were urged to boycott Swedish brands such as Ikea.

At his first performance on Sunday following his release, in Anaheim in California, the rapper thanked fans and called the experience in Sweden "scary" and "humbling".

"I need y'all to keep praying for me," he told the crowd, saying he hoped he would not have to return to serve a jail sentence.

A court statement published alongside the full judgement, seen by The Local. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The artist maintained his innocence, telling the court he acted in self-defence, saying he felt "scared" and that he and his entourage had repeatedly told the plaintiff to leave them alone.

Mayers conceded he threw the man to the ground and "kicked his arm", but denied the prosecution's claim that a bottle was used and insisted he only acted after the accuser and his friend began attacking his bodyguard.

The plaintiff, a Swedish resident born in Afghanistan, alleged he was attacked by Mayers and his entourage when he followed them to ask about a headphone set broken in an earlier scuffle with the rapper's bodyguard.

Assault carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison in Sweden. The prosecutor called for a six-month jail sentence, while the defence argued they should be acquitted.


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