Swedish court on Wednesday found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm that drew the close attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Though the 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and his two bodyguards were found to have hit and kicked the victim during the brawl, the three defendants did not face the prospect of an immediate prison term and did not have to attend the verdict by the Stockholm District Court.
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ASAP Rocky found guilty of assault in Sweden
An assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in either criminal and/or civil liability. Generally, the common law definition is the same in criminal and tort law.
Traditionally, common law legal systems had separate definitions for assault and battery. When this distinction is observed, battery refers to the actual bodily contact, whereas assault refers to a credible threat or attempt to cause battery. Some jurisdictions combined the two offences into assault and battery, which then became widely referred to as “assault”. The result is that in many of these jurisdictions, assault has taken on a definition that is more in line with the traditional definition of battery. The legal systems of civil law and Scots law have never distinguished assault from battery.
Legal systems generally acknowledge that assaults can vary greatly in severity. In the United States, an assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In England and Wales and Australia, it can be charged as either common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) or grievous bodily harm (GBH). Canada also has a three-tier system: assault, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. Separate charges typically exist for sexual assaults, affray and assaulting a police officer. Assault may overlap with an attempted crime; for example an assault may be charged as an attempted murder if it was done with intent to kill.
The court did sentence the three to “conditional sentences,” which means they face no prison sentence in Sweden unless they commit a similar offense in the country again.
The three, who were released Aug. 2 pending the verdict and returned to the U.S., have been ordered to a pay a total of 12,500 kronor ($1,310) in compensation to the victim.
ASAP Rocky found guilty of assault in Sweden
The artist had pleaded self-defense and said he had tried to avoid a confrontation with the two men who he claimed were persistently following his entourage. One of them picked a fight with one of Mayers’ two bodyguards, the rapper told during the court proceedings.
The court said the defendants “were not in a situation where they were entitled to self-defense.”
“In an overall assessment the court finds that the assault has not been of such a serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen,” the court said.
This sort of sentencing is in line with other cases in Sweden.
During the trial, prosecutors played video footage that showed the rapper throwing a young man to the ground.
Though the victim, 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari, was struck in the back of the head with a bottle, presiding judge Per Lennerbrant said it could “not be established by whom” and this inability “affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime.”
Slobodan Jovicic, Mayers’ Swedish defense lawyer was “disappointed” by the verdict and said he had been looking for “a complete acquittal.”
Mayers had told the court before his release that Jafari and his friend refused to go away despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
Testifying in court, Jafari said his memory of the events was confused because of the blows to his head during the brawl. He had told police earlier that he got angry as his headphones were broken during the initial argument with a bodyguard.
A full-scale brawl ensued shortly afterward and prosecutors allege that Mayers and his bodyguards — David Rispers, Jr. and Bladimir Corniel — beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground. They said Jafari was hit with parts of or a whole bottle.
Jafari claimed the rapper pushed him to the ground. The prosecution played video footage in court showing Mayers throwing a young man to the ground, and photos showed the alleged victim’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.
The case drew the attention of American celebrities and Mayers’ fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign, #JusticeForRocky, has been pressing for his release.
The issue also became a topic of U.S.-Swedish diplomatic spat.
U.S. President Trump intervened on behalf of the rapper while he was jailed, and called Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, offering to personally guarantee his bail, but the Swedish leader said he couldn’t interfere in a legal case. Trump later cheered the release of Mayers and his bodyguards.