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Saturday 24 August 2019

'My crew didn't want any trouble', ASAP Rocky tells trial

ASAP Rocky. Photo: Reuters
ASAP Rocky. Photo: Reuters
ASAP Rocky's mother Renee Black outside court. Photo: TT News Agency

American rapper ASAP Rocky has told a court in Sweden that he did everything possible to avoid conflict with two men he says persistently followed his entourage.

He also said that one of the men picked a fight with one of his bodyguards.

The rapper, real name Rakim Mayers, is accused - along with two other men believed to be members of his entourage - of beating Mustafa Jafari (19) in central Stockholm on the evening of June 30.

The case has drawn the attention of US celebrities and Mr Mayers's fellow recording artists, including Sean 'Diddy' Combs and Justin Bieber.

US President Donald Trump also sent ambassador Robert O'Brien to Sweden to monitor proceedings.

Mr Mayers told Stockholm District Court that Mr Jafari and his friend refused to leave the entourage alone despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be on drugs.

He said the situation started to get tense after Mr Jafari got into an argument with one of Mr Mayers's bodyguards near a fast-food restaurant.

"After a while, my security guard started pushing him [Mr Jafari] away, begging him to leave, go from there," said Mr Mayers, wearing an all-green inmate uniform.

He gave evidence that he and his entourage just wanted to "de-escalate" the situation.

"Me and my crew told them that, listen, don't go where we are going, go the other way, we don't want any trouble," he said.

However, he said that Mr Jafari was persistent and just would not go away.

A full-scale brawl ensued a bit later at a nearby side street and prosecutors allege that Mr Mayers and the two other suspects beat and kicked Mr Jafari while he was on the ground, and that Mr Jafari was hit with a bottle.

The rapper (30), pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial, saying he acted in self-defence.

Offended

Swedish prosecutors told the court on Tuesday that Mr Jafari and a friend got into an argument with Mr Mayers and one of his bodyguards near a fast-food restaurant where the rapper's entourage had eaten.

Mr Jafari had told police earlier that he got angry as his headphones were broken during the initial argument with the bodyguard.

"When he [the bodyguard] pushed me, I was both offended and surprised," Mr Jafari said in court yesterday. "I followed them and said I was going to call the police... since he had broken my headphones."

Mr Mayers's defence lawyer, Slobodan Jovicic, asked Mr Jafari whether he thought the rapper's entourage acted the way it did due to fear of him.

"Four or five people afraid of me, who's not even half of their body size?" Mr Jafari replied.

Despite being asked several times, it was not clear why Mr Jafari wanted to contact the entourage in the first place.

The trial has created a stir in US-Swedish diplomatic relations after Mr Trump weighed in on the case in support of the Grammy-nominated recording artist offering to guarantee his bail. Sweden does not have a bail system and Mr Mayers has stayed behind bars.

If convicted, Mr Mayers faces up to two years in prison.

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