US rapper ASAP Rocky found guilty of assault in Sweden

The artist will not face further time behind bars despite the verdict.

American rapper ASAP Rocky has been found guilty of assault in Sweden, where his jailing after a Stockholm street brawl drew the close attention of US President Donald Trump.

A judge and jury ruled the rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and his two bodyguards hit and kicked a 19-year-old man during the incident on June 30.

The defendants did not have to be at Stockholm District Court for the verdict on Friday, and they do not face an immediate return to detention.

After nearly a month behind bars, the three were released on August 2 and returned to the United States.

The court gave them “conditional sentences” for the assault convictions, meaning they do not have to serve prison time unless they commit a similar offence in Sweden again.

They were ordered to a pay a total of 12,500 Swedish kronor (£1,078) in compensation to the victim.

Slobodan Jovicic
ASAP Rocky’s Swedish lawyer Slobodan Jovicic said he had been hoping for acquittal (Fredrik Sandberg/TT via AP)

Slobodan Jovicic, the Grammy-nominated artist’s Swedish defence lawyer, said he had been looking for “a complete acquittal” and was disappointed by the verdict.

During his trial, in which Mayers had pleaded self-defence, the artist said the fight happened after he tried to avoid a confrontation with two men he claimed had persisted in following his entourage. He said one of them picked a fight with one of the bodyguards.

But the court concluded the defendants “were not in a situation where they were entitled to self-defence”, according to a summary of the verdict.

It stated: “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.”

Per Lennerbrant
Judge Per Lennerbrant said it could not be established who had hit the victim with a bottle (Anders Wiklund/TT via AP)

During the trial, prosecutors played video footage that showed Mayers, 30, throwing a young man to the ground.

Presiding Judge Per Lennerbrant said the evidence shows 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari was struck in the back of the head with a bottle but that it could “not be established by whom”.

That determination was a factor in the verdict since it “affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime”, the judge said.

Mayers had told the court before his release that Mr Jafari and his friend refused to go away despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

ASAP Rocky verdict
A copy of the court verdict on ASAP Rocky and his two co-accused bodyguards (Anders Wiklund/TT via AP)

Giving evidence in court, Mr Jafari said his memory of the night was confused because of blows to the head he received during the brawl. He told police earlier he had been angry when his headphones were broken during the initial argument with a bodyguard.

A full-scale brawl ensued shortly afterwards.

Prosecutors alleged Mayers and his bodyguards – David Rispers Jr and Bladimir Corniel – beat and kicked Mr Jafari while he was on the ground.

Mr Jafari claimed the rapper pushed him to the ground, and photos showed the alleged victim’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.

The case drew the attention of American celebrities and Mayers’s fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign, #JusticeForRocky, had been pressing for his release.

The case also led to a US-Swedish diplomatic spat.

Mr Trump intervened on behalf of the rapper while he was in jail, telling Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven he could personally guarantee his bail. But the Swedish leader said he could not interfere in a legal case.

Mr Trump later cheered the release of Mayers and his bodyguards.

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