Sunday 25 August 2019

Rapper A$AP Rocky acted in self-defence during brawl, star tells court

On trial: A$AP Rocky – Rakim Mayers – is on trial for assault in Sweden. Photo: Reuters
On trial: A$AP Rocky – Rakim Mayers – is on trial for assault in Sweden. Photo: Reuters

Johan Ahlander

Rapper A$AP Rocky told a Swedish court he had tried to avoid the fight in Stockholm city centre that landed him in custody and facing a charge of assault.

The case has drawn huge media attention as celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rod Stewart, have defended the American performer, producer and model (30).

US President Donald Trump has asked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to help free him.

Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was detained following a brawl outside a hamburger restaurant in Stockholm on June 30.

Two of his entourage were also charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.

All three pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial on Tuesday with Mr Mayers' lawyer saying the rapper acted in self- defence.

Giving evidence for the first time, Mr Mayers said he had been scared after his group was followed by the plaintiff, a 19-year-old man, and his friend.

"We wanted to defuse the situation and get away from these guys," Mayers told the court.

When the two men attacked his bodyguard, he reacted, grabbing 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari and throwing him to the ground.

"At this point I intervened. I threw him to the ground, and stepped on his arm, I kicked his arm and I punched or shoved him," Mr Mayers said.

Mr Mayers told the court he had been the victim of a number of attacks in recent years and that the situation in Stockholm had made him paranoid.

"We're in a foreign country, we're approached by two strangers with aggressive behaviour: 10 months ago when I was with my cousin ... I was stabbed in my face by strangers," he told the court.

He was also shown footage of himself holding a bottle.

The rapper didn't deny he is shown holding a glass bottle in his hand - but said he picked it up briefly before putting it back down.

He said that his home had been robbed twice at gunpoint in the last two years and that he and his security guard had also been attacked in an elevator in Oakland in the United States by drug addicts.

"I don't know what to expect when being attacked by strangers, that's why I have security.

"At that moment I wasn't thinking," he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Jafari told the court he had been pushed and grabbed by the neck by Mr Mayers' bodyguard outside the restaurant and followed the rapper's group to get back a pair of headphones.

He said he was then hit on the head with a bottle and kicked and punched by the three men while he was on the ground.

Mr Jafari continued his account on Thursday morning.

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

The trial is scheduled to end today. The court will then announce a date for the verdict and say whether Mr Mayers must remain in custody until that time.

Irish Independent

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