By DAVID KEYTON Associated Press
STOCKHOLM (AP) — American rapper A$AP Rocky was found guilty of assault Wednesday in Sweden, where his jailing after a Stockholm street brawl drew the close attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.
A judge and jury found the rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and his two bodyguards hit and kicked a 19-year-old man during the June 30 fight. The defendants did not have to be at Stockholm District Court for the verdict and don’t face an immediate return to detention.
A Swedish court on Wednesday Aug. 14, 2019 found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm says he and his two bodyguards “assaulted the victim by hitting and kicking him as he lay on the ground.”(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
After nearly a month behind bars, the three were released Aug. 2 and returned to the United States. The court gave them “conditional sentences” for the assault convictions, meaning they don’t have to serve prison time unless they commit a similar offense in Sweden again.
They were ordered to a pay a total of 12,500 kronor ($1,310) in compensation to the victim.
Slobodan Jovicic, the Grammy-nominated artist’s Swedish defense lawyer, said he had been looking for “a complete acquittal” and was disappointed by the verdict.
Mayers had pleaded self-defense. He said the fight happened after he tried to avoid a confrontation with two men he claimed had persisted in following his entourage. One of them picked a fight with one of the bodyguards, Mayers, 30, said during his trial.
A copy of the court verdict on American rapper A$AP Rocky and two others, as distributed and arranged to be photographed at Stockholm District Court, in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday Aug. 14, 2019. Swedish court on Wednesday found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm. (Anders Wiklund / TT via AP)
But the court concluded the defendants “were not in a situation where they were entitled to self-defense,” according to a summary of the verdict.
“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,” the summary states.
During the trial, prosecutors played video footage that showed the Mayers 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 Jafari and his friend refused to go away despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
Testifying in court, Jafari said his memory of the night was confused because of the blows to his head during the brawl. He told police earlier he had gotten angry when his headphones were broken during the initial argument with a bodyguard.
A full-scale brawl ensued shortly afterward. Prosecutors alleged Mayers and his bodyguards — David Rispers, Jr. and Bladimir Corniel — beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground. They also alleged that Jafari was hit with parts of or a whole bottle.
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’ fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign, #JusticeForRocky, has been pressing for his release.
The issue also led to a U.S.-Swedish diplomatic spat.
U.S. President Trump intervened on behalf of the rapper while he was jailed. Trump called Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, offering to personally guarantee his bail, but the Swedish leader said he couldn’t interfere in a legal case.
Trump later cheered the release of Mayers and his bodyguards.
Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.