Wednesday 18 September 2019

Get home A$AP, Trump tells assault charge rapper as judge releases him

On way home: Rapper A$AP was freed by a judge in Sweden. Photo: Reuters
On way home: Rapper A$AP was freed by a judge in Sweden. Photo: Reuters

Johan Ahlander

Rapper A$AP Rocky and two of his friends were on their way home to the US after being released from custody in Sweden yesterday.

The development came three days into their assault trial in Stockholm, and was hailed by Donald Trump, the US president, who had tried to intervene in the case.

The judge, Per Lennerbrant, said the three were free to leave the country in advance of his verdict due on August 14.

Such a decision in Sweden often points to an acquittal or a sentence that is less than the time that defendants have already served.

The three had been in custody since they were detained following a brawl in downtown Stockholm on June 30.

Mr Trump tweeted: "A$AP Rocky released from prison and on his way home to the United States from Sweden. It was a Rocky Week, get home ASAP A$AP!"

Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, took off by plane from Arlanda airport in the evening.

At the judge's announcement, Mayers shared a long hug with his lawyer, then with his co-defendants, and then ran over to the courtroom gallery to hug his friends and family, who had cheered the decision.

Later on Instagram, Mayers thanked his friends and fans. "I want to thank the court for allowing me, Bladi and Thoto to return to our family and friends," he added, referring to his co-defendants.

Mayers (30) had claimed he acted in self-defence after his bodyguard was attacked.

The case has drawn huge media attention, particularly since Mr Trump publicised the case on Twitter and asked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to help free the three Americans.

Lofven declined, saying that Sweden's judiciary was independent.

Around 20 A$AP Rocky fans had gathered outside the court yesterday chanting "Free Rocky" and playing his music.

In the court, prosecutor Daniel Suneson had earlier in the day called for six-month jail terms for Mayers and his two co-defendants on charges of beating up a 19-year-old man called Mustafa Jafari.

After the judge's statement, the prosecutor said the release meant the court assessed there were no longer grounds for detention.

"I do not want to speculate on whether they will be convicted or acquitted, we will have to await the court's ruling," he said.

The prosecution had argued that after an argument, Mayers threw Jafari to the ground, after which he and two of his entourage kicked and punched the teenager.

In his testimony, Jafari said he was also hit on the head with a bottle. Mayers acknowledged that he threw Jafari to the ground and punched and kicked him, but said the teenager attacked his bodyguard.

He said he had tried to avoid the fight and denied hitting Jafari with a bottle.

Mayers, best known for his song Praise the Lord, had been in Stockholm for a concert. He has cancelled several shows across Europe due to his detention.

His spokeswoman said that upcoming dates 10 days from now were not cancelled.

Irish Independent

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