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U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky to testify in assault trial

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky will give testimony in a Swedish court on Thursday on the second day of his assault trial after he and two of his entourage were accused of punching and kicking a teenager.

A courtroom sketch shows Rakim Athelaston Mayers alias ASAP Rocky (in green shirt) and his defence lawyer Slobodan Jovicic during the second day of ASAP Rocky’s trial, at the district court in Stockholm, Sweden August 1, 2019. Anna-Lena Lindqvist/TT News Agency via REUTERS

On day one of the trial on Tuesday, the 30-year-old performer, producer and model, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm. His lawyer told the court he acted in self-defense.

Mayers was detained on July 3 in connection with a brawl outside a hamburger restaurant in Stockholm on June 30 and later charged with assault.

Before Thursday’s session began, Mayers entered the court room in handcuffs, wearing the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s green clothes and with his hair in a pony tail.

Mayers’ mother was, as on Tuesday, in the court room, wearing an A$AP Rocky shirt.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Daniel Suneson showed video from security cameras and witnesses’ mobile phones and said following an altercation Mayers threw 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari to the ground, after which he and two of his entourage kicked and punched him.

The prosecutor said a bottle was used to hit Jafari, who suffered cuts and bruises.

Jafari on Tuesday told the court he was pushed and grabbed by the neck by Mayers’ bodyguard outside the restaurant and followed the rapper’s group to get back his headphones. He said he was then hit on the head with a bottle and kicked and punched while on the ground.

Jafari will continue his testimony on Thursday, after which Mayers will take the stand.

Mayers’ and the other two defendant’s lawyers began the day in court by contesting Jafari’s 140,000 Swedish crown ($14,500) damages claim.

The case has drawn huge media attention, forcing the trial to be moved to a secure courtroom.

Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rod Stewart, have leaped to Mayers’ defense and U.S. President Donald Trump asked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to help free Mayers.

Sweden’s judiciary is independent of the political system and Lofven has said he will not influence the rapper’s case.

Mayers, best known for his song “Praise the Lord”, was in Stockholm for a concert. He has canceled several shows across Europe due to his detention.

The trial is scheduled to end on Friday. The court will then announce a date for the verdict and say whether Mayers must remain in custody until then.

If convicted, the accused could face up to two years in jail.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; writing by Johan Ahlander and Anna Ringstrom, Editing by Janet Lawrence

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