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A$AP Rocky has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges against him in Sweden, as the American rapper’s trial gets underway this week.
The trial for Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, began Tuesday in Stockholm District Court, in a case that has gained international publicity — even attracting the attention of President Donald Trump, who leveled criticism against Sweden’s prime minister for the arrest, according to CBS News.
Rocky and two members of his entourage, have been accused of assaulting Mustafa Jafari on June 30 in central Stockholm while the rapper was on tour. But Rocky’s attorneys claim the rapper was acting in self-defense.
Due to the “large interest from the media and the public,” the trial will be held in a secure courtroom where filming and photography are prohibited, Stockholm court officials said.
Prosecutors have alleged that Rocky and his associates beat and kicked Jafari while he lay on the ground, and struck him with a bottle.
But the rapper took to social media shortly after the altercation to proclaim his innocence. In a series of videos posted to his Instagram A$AP Rocky and his team are seen trying to de-escalate the situation and encourage two men who had approached the rapper to leave the group alone.
“We don’t want to fight you all, we’re not trying to go to jail,” Rocky said in the recording.
But other videos have also emerged that seem to show Rocky throw one of the men to the ground. Another shows Rocky and two other men kicking and punching a man on the ground, according to The New York Times.
Rocky later told police that he struck Jafari because he believed his group was about to be attacked.
His attorney, Martin Persson, has also told Swedish media SVT that he plans to present evidence during the trial that will show that no bottle was used to hit Jafari, and that what happened between the men was “within the limits of the law.”
The case has sparked the social media movement #JusticeForRocky and drawn attention from numerous celebrities including Kim Kardashian West and Justin Bieber.
President Trump also voiced his “disappointment” in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for not taking any action in the dispute.
“Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States,” he tweeted. “I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly!”
The trial is expected to continue throughout the week.
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