A$AP Rocky Found Guilty of Assault in Sweden, Given Suspended Sentence
The American Rapper was convicted of assault for an altercation in Stockholm on June 30 but will not have to do any additional jail time.
American rapper A$AP Rocky was on Wednesday convicted of assault and given a suspended sentence for an altercation that took place in Stockholm on June 30.
The Grammy-nominated rapper and two other suspects were charged with attacking 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari in a fight in central Stockholm on June 30. The charges carried a maximum sentence of two years in prison. But the court ruling, announced Wednesday, means the men will not do any additional jail time. As part of the judgement, the three defendants will have to pay damages amounting to $1,309 (SEK 12,500) to Jafari, who had claimed a much larger sum —SEK 139,700 or $14,600 —in damages. All three defendants will also have to pay an additional $84 (SEK 800) each to a crime victims fund and to cover Jafari's legal costs.
Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, had pleaded self-defense, saying he had tried to avoid a confrontation with two men who he said were persistently following his entourage. One of them picked a fight with one of Mayers’ two bodyguards, the rapper told the Stockholm District Court. But in its ruling Wednesday, the court said Rocky and his two co-defendants were not in a situation where they were entitled to use violence in self-defense and that they had assaulted the victim "by hitting and kicking him.”
The Swedish prosecution reportedly was seeking a six-month jail sentence for Rocky on assault charges. In more than 500 pages of court documents, it argued that the three suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground and hit him with a bottle. 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. The court, however, ruled that it could not be proved that Rocky or the other defendants used a bottle in the assault. A pair of eyewitnesses pleaded with the prosecution that they did not see Rocky using any sort of bottle as a weapon during the altercation.
"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," the presiding judge Per Lennerbrant said in his ruling.
In a press conference following the announcement of the verdict, Rocky's Swedish defense lawyer, Slobodan Jovovic, said he was "incredibly disappointed" with the ruling as he had hoped for an acquittal. Jovovic said it was too early to say whether or not Rocky would appeal the decision.
Rocky spent nearly five weeks in detention in Sweden but was released Aug. 2, along with his co-defendants Thoto and Bladi, pending the verdict in the trial. The judge ruled Rocky was not a flight risk. Rocky has since left Sweden and is currently on tour in the United States. In his first post-release show, at 92.3’s inaugural Real Street Festival on Sunday, Aug. 12, he addressed his incarceration.
“I just want to say, what I experienced was crazy. I’m so happy to be here right now, y’all don’t even understand," Rocky told the sold-out crowd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. "That was a scary, humbling experience, but I’m here right now. God is good."
A$AP Rocky's trial also caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump and celebrities.
The arrest of the the 30-year-old recording artist prompted President Trump to intervene on behalf of the jailed rapper and sparked an unusual diplomatic spat when Swedish prosecutors charged him with assault. Trump on Twitter urged Sweden to "Treat Americans fairly!" and criticized Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven "for being unable to act." "We do so much for Sweden but it doesn't seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky," he added. A spokesman for Swedish Prime Minister said Lofven, in a short telephone conversation with Trump, told the U.S. President that "everyone was equal" under the Swedish justice system and that Sweden's judiciary was independent of political interference.
The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Mayers' fellow recording artists, including Sean "Diddy" Combs and Justin Bieber. The movement #JusticeForRocky was created soon after the rapper's arrest. An online petition for #JusticeForRocky garnered more than 640,000 signatures, with some supporters of the artist calling for a boycott of Swedish brands such as furniture maker Ikea.
The trial was held in a secure courtroom "because of strong interest from the media and the public," the Stockholm court said, noting that no photographing or filming would take place during the proceedings. But the media was out in force outside the courtroom, with Swedish TV reporting live from when the verdict was announced around 2 p.m. local time Wednesday.