This court sketch created on July 30, 2019 shows US rapper A$AP Rocky (middle row, in green shirt) during his trial at the district court in Stockholm. Anna HARVARD / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP
US rapper A$AP Rocky’s trial in Sweden enters its third and final day on Friday, with witnesses taking the stand in an assault case that has stirred diplomatic tensions and outraged fans.
The 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was arrested on July 3 along with three other people following a street brawl in Stockholm on June 30, which saw him and his crew embroiled in a fight with a 19-year-old plaintiff.
The trial of Mayers and two others — his bodyguard has been released — is set to resume at 9 am (0700 GMT) on Friday and the court will hear testimony from witnesses called by the prosecution and defence.
It is scheduled to conclude with closing arguments in the afternoon, although judge Per Lennerbrant has indicated there could be an extension into next week.
The rapper, who pleaded not guilty, saying he was acting in self-defence, faces up to two years in prison if convicted.
When giving his own account of the events leading up to the brawl on Thursday, he stressed that he felt “scared” and that he and his entourage had repeatedly told the plaintiff to leave them alone.
Mayers conceded he threw the plaintiff to the ground and “kicked his arm”, but denied the prosecution’s claim that a bottle was used and insisted he only acted after the accuser and his friend began attacking his bodyguard.
The plaintiff has alleged that he was attacked by Mayers and his entourage when he followed them to ask about a pair of headphones that had broken in an earlier scuffle with the rapper’s bodyguard.
Much of the trial has centred around analysing videos and whether bottles had been used as weapons during the alleged assault.
In one video published by US celebrity news outlet TMZ, the rapper can be seen throwing a young man to the ground and apparently aiming several punches at him while he is down.
The court has also been shown videos posted on the artist’s Instagram account, purporting to show the lead up to the brawl in which Mayers appears to repeatedly ask the man and his friend to stop following him and his entourage. The prosecution has argued that the Instagram videos were heavily edited.
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Once the hearings conclude, the court will announce a verdict date and rule on whether the accused should be detained in the meantime.
Considered by the court to be a “flight risk”, A$AP Rocky has been held in custody since his arrest.
Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have been campaigning for his release.
An online petition called #JusticeForRocky has garnered more than 640,000 signatures. Social media campaigns have urged fans to boycott Swedish brands such as IKEA.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the rapper to be freed, drawing complaints of interference from Swedish politicians.
The US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Robert C. O’Brien, has been sent to attend the trial.
Swedish media also reported Thursday that the US embassy had sent a request to the Swedish Prosecutor General, to allow the rapper and the two others to stay in a hotel rather than the remand prison where they are currently being held.
“We responded that’s not how it works in Sweden,” Karin Rosander, communications director at the Swedish Prosecution Authority, told the newspaper Expressen.