American rapper A$AP Rocky has been charged with assault in Sweden and will face trial over a street fight in Stockholm. The recording artist from New York, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, who has gained support from other prominent artists and U.S. politicians, claims he acted in self-defense and was provoked during the incident on June 30.
“I have today commenced criminal proceedings against the three individuals suspected of assault causing actual bodily harm, having come to the conclusion that the events in question constitute a crime and despite claims of self-defence and provocation,” Stockholm public prosecutor Daniel Suneson said in a statement released Thursday by the city’s prosecution service.
Videos posted on social media of the encounter between A$AP Rocky and members of his entourage in Stockholm with a pair of young men showed them arguing over a pair of headphones, and one video shows the rapper appear to kick and punch one of the men on the ground.
“I have studied the videos made available to the inquiry. It is worth noting that I have had access to a greater amount of material than that which has previously been available on the internet,” Suneson said in the statement released Thursday. “In addition to video material, the injured party’s statements have been supported by witness statements.”
The prosecution service said the musician and two other individuals, identified as his cousin and a friend, would remain in custody until the trial. A Stockholm district court scheduled the trial to begin on July 30.
The case has since gained worldwide attention, including from President Trump. Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky”
Last week Mr. Trump said first lady Melania Trump and several of his African American friends had personally appealed to him to speak up on behalf of the rapper.
“Sweden is a great country, they are friends of mine, the leadership,” Mr. Trump said. “We are going to be calling. We will be talking to them. We’ve already started.”
Standing by her husband’s side, Melania Trump told reporters that the White House was “working with Sweden, and we hope to get him home soon.”
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said, however, that intervention from U.S. politicians would not influence the course of justice in Sweden.
The families of the men in custody have told CBS News they just want justice.
“I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I cried,” said Nikita Rispers, A$AP Rocky’s cousin. She and her husband said Rocky, their son Dave, and Bladimir Corniel are victims, not instigators.
The videos posted online of the incident show Rocky, Dave and his friend tell the two men who appear to be following them to walk away several times. But minutes later, a second video shows Rocky and the others throw one man to the ground, and punch and kick him repeatedly. That man has since been cleared of wrongdoing.
The families thanked celebrities like Kim Kardashian West — and President Trump and the first lady — for advocating for their immediate release. “For him to actually hear what they were saying, and then doing something about it… that made me feel proud,” Nikita said.
Bladimir Corniel’s parents are simply asking for their son’s safe return. “As a mother I don’t want to see him there…” his mother, Daisy Rodriguez, said through tears. “I just want him to come home.”