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Swedish prosecutors on Thursday charged American rapper A$AP Rocky and two of his companions with assault.
The charges relate to an incident in central Stockholm on June 30 when Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was filmed apparently grabbing and tossing a man through the air and onto the street.
Rocky was taken into custody while Swedish authorities investigated the case. The rapper claims he acted in self-defense after being pursued and harassed by two fans for several hours. But, earlier this week, Swedish prosecutors said they would not pursue charges against a man Rocky claims incited the violence.
Rocky and members of his entourage filmed and posted videos of the night in question that they claim prove they acted in self-defense.
Prosecutor Daniel Suneson disagreed. In a statement Thursday he said he had access to a “larger amount of material than what has been available on the internet” and judged the actions of Rocky and two of his companions, to be a crime. Suneson claims that even if Rocky was provoked, he acted excessively. The prosecution believes Rocky and the other two men continued to beat and kick the man after he was on the ground and may have cut him with a broken bottle.
Rocky’s Swedish defense lawyer, Slobodan Jovicic, said at a press conference on Thursday that he was “not surprised” by the decision to press charges but said he was “extremely disappointed” that prosecutors chose to give testimony of the alleged victim more weight than that of Rocky and his companions.
Later on Thursday, President Trump weighed in, tweeting, “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. 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.” Kanye West, a Trump supporter, was the individual to bring the case to the president’s attention. Last week, Trump tweeted that after a talk with West he was planning on calling Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven about the situation.
The Stockholm District Court will now decide on the date of the trial.
Rocky’s case became an international incident after fellow recording artists, including Nicki Minaj, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes rallied to his case, calling for Sweden to release him.
Trump claimed he offered to “personally vouch” for A$AP Rocky’s bail, despite the fact that the Swedish criminal justice system does not include bail. Instead, suspects can be held for an indefinite period before being charged.
The prime minister’s office said it informed Trump that it could not intervene in the case because, a spokesman said in a press release, “in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings.”
Rocky’s ultimate fate may depend on Sweden’s interpretation of self-defense, which differs greatly from the legal interpretation in the United States.
Under Chapter 24 of the Swedish criminal code it is lawful to intervene to prevent an “initiated or imminent criminal attack on person or property” but using excessive force, even in self-defense, can be a criminal offense.
In a famous 2006 case, a Swedish man, Per-Anders Pettersson, who intervened to defend a woman being assaulted, was himself sentenced to a year in prison because he struck the attacker after he had already knocked him to the ground.
July 25, 2:35 p.m. Updated with Trump’s Thursday tweet.
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