American rapper A$AP Rocky appealed for “justice” at his assault trial in Sweden on Thursday and testified that he had acted in self-defense during a “scary” June street fight.
The artist, whose case has fueled a diplomatic quarrel after repeated interventions from US President Donald Trump’s administration, made a statement and was cross-examined by prosecutors on the second day of the trial. It was monitored from the courtroom by Trump’s hostage negotiator.
He has pleaded not guilty to assault charges after being detained following a brawl in the Swedish capital Stockholm on June 30.
He said he was trying to download an app to hire an electric scooter when his bodyguard was approached by the alleged victim.
“Things got a little weird. We thought that the behavior of these guys was strange, it got a bit scary,” A$AP Rocky, whose real name Rakim Mayers, told a packed courtroom.
He added that he suspected the man was under the influence of drugs, and that he and his entourage attempted to walk away but were followed by the man and his friend.
“At this point we are really scared. I saw my security guard being cut, bleeding. We didn’t know what to expect with these strangers – I’m not from Sweden, so it was really scary,” the rapper said.
“I wanted to go straight to the hotel for safety. I didn’t want this to happen,” he added. “We had no clue where we were, we just knew we weren’t close to the hotel.”
“I was scared and we were in defense mode,” the rapper added later, during cross-examination by the Swedish prosecutor. “You’ve got to realize that my life is very, very particular,” he said. “We’re in a foreign country. We’re approached by two strangers with aggressive behavior.
“Ten months ago when I was with my cousin and these two gentlemen, I was stabbed in the face,” A$AP Rocky said, adding that his home has been twice robbed at gun point. “I don’t know what to expect when I’m being approached by strangers. That is why I have a security guard. I’m only thinking about defending myself.”
When quizzed by his own lawyer, the rapper said he wanted “justice” in the case.
“I spent a month here in Sweden. This is my fifth or sixth time here. I’ve seen the most beautiful architecture and beautiful side of Sweden. And the obviously the not so pretty side of Sweden from inside prison,” he said.
“I’ve heard speculation that I could demand damages and money and what not. I don’t want any money. I can earn that money back. For me, what I want is justice. And I want my name to be cleared. And justice for all.”
Surveillance footage analyzed
A$AP Rocky’s lawyer, Slobodan Jovicic, began proceedings on Thursday by grilling the alleged victim about why he started talking to the rapper’s bodyguard.
“To me they were just normal people. I didn’t recognize them,” the alleged victim said, adding that he approached the bodyguard to ask for help finding his friend.
The court was also shown surveillance footage of the brawl, in which the rapper and his two co-defendants, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers, assert they were acting in self-defense.
The man says A$AP Rocky and his entourage assaulted him by kicking and beating him with a glass bottle or part of one while he lay on the ground. Under Swedish law, A$AP Rocky could face a maximum penalty of two years in prison. However, according to Swedish media, the prosecutors have indicated they do not expect to ask for the maximum penalty.
The rapper admitted he briefly held a bottle during the altercation, but put it down without using it as a weapon.