A$AP Rocky trial: US rapper backed by Trump pleads not guilty to assault

Case has attracted attention from Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

Donald and Melania Trump speak out on A$AP Rocky arrest in Sweden

American rapper A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault on the first day of a trial in Sweden in a case that has attracted the attention of Donald Trump.

Swedish prosecutors allege the Grammy-nominated artist and two other suspects “deliberately, together and in agreement” attacked Mustafa Jafari during a street brawl in central Stockholm on 30 June.

The 30-year-old performer, producer and model, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, has maintained his innocence and claimed the plaintiff provoked him and his companions.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The trial started in Stockholm District Court on Tuesday and the court has also set aside Thursday and Friday for the case.

The trial will be held in a secure courtroom “because of the large interest from the media and the public”, the Stockholm court said, noting no photographing or filming will take place during the proceedings.

Prosecutors alleged, in more than 500 pages of court documents, that the three suspects beat and kicked Mr Jafari while he was on the ground and he was hit by parts of or a whole bottle.

They also said Mr Mayers pushed Mr Jafari to the ground and the court documents include numerous photos of Mr Jafari’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.

The rapper’s lawyer, Martin Persson, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Monday that he would present the court with new evidence, including showing that “no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone” and that the violence used was “within the limits of the law”.

His detention before the trial since 3 July prompted angry responses from fans and several artists and other celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Mr Trump intervened by asking Stefan Lofven, the Swedish prime minister, to help free Mayers.

The US president also said he would personally pay Mr Mayers’ bail, but Sweden does not have a bail system.

When Mr Lofven said he would not influence the rapper’s case, because Sweden’s judiciary is independent from the political system, Mr Trump tweeted that he was “very disappointed” and demanded: “Treat Americans fairly!”

Mr Trump added: “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.”

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Mr Mayers, best known for his songs “Praise the Lord” and “F****** Problems”, was in Stockholm for a concert while on tour.

Before his arrest, he uploaded videos on Instagram of the moments before the alleged assault, saying two men were following his team and he did not want any trouble.

Additional reporting by agencies

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