American rapper A$AP Rocky and two other men believed to be members of his entourage went on trial Tuesday in Sweden in a high-profile legal case that has caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump and celebrities.
Swedish prosecutors allege that the Grammy-nominated rapper and the two other suspects “deliberately, together and in agreement” attacked 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari in a fight in central Stockholm on June 30.
Prosecutors alleged in more than 500 pages of court documents that the three suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground and that he was hit by parts of or a whole bottle.
The trial of the recording artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, started in Stockholm District Court, which also has set aside Thursday and Friday for the case.
Mayers’ mother Renee Black was seen arriving at the court while his son was escorted in wearing a green shirt. She appeared “like she was about to burst into tears,” Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported.
Lawyers for both sides were to present their narrative of what happened on the night of June 30 at Tuesday’s court session. Testimonies are expected to take place on Thursday.
The trial was being held in a secure courtroom “because of strong interest from the media and the public,” the Stockholm court said, noting that no photographing or filming will take place during the proceedings.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Mayers, who has been in custody since July 3, has said he acted in self-defense.
The rapper’s lawyer, Martin Persson, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Monday that he would present the court with new evidence, including showing that “no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone” and that the violence used was “within the limits of the law.”
A lawyer for Jafari, Magnus Stromberg, told The Associated Press on Friday the beating started when one of A$AP Rocky’s guards “grabbed him (Jafari) by the neck and dragged him away” and that Jafari didn’t provoke the assault.
Prosecutors said that Mayers pushed Jafari to the ground and the court documents include numerous photos of Jafari’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.
Jafari, 19, is seeking 139,700 Swedish kronor ($14,700) in damages for his injuries, lost income and damages to his appearance.
Mayers’ arrest prompted Trump to intervene on behalf of the jailed rapper and sparked an unusual diplomatic spat when Swedish prosecutors charged the 30-year-old artist last week.
Trump urged Sweden to “Treat Americans fairly!” on Twitter, and criticized Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven “for being unable to act.”
“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,” he added.
The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Mayers’ fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber, and created the movement #JusticeForRocky soon after the rapper’s arrest.