A$AP Rocky has given evidence at his assault trial in Sweden, telling the court he was followed by his accuser and that his security guard “begged” the man to leave.
The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, said he did everything possible to avoid conflict during the incident in Stockholm.
Along with two other men believed to be members of his entourage, Mayers is accused of beating 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari on the evening of 30 June. He has been in custody since 3 July.
The 30-year-old’s case has made headlines around the world, attracting the attention of celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, Rod Stewart and Justin Bieber, and prompting US President Donald Trump to publicly call for his release.
After pleading not guilty on Tuesday, saying he acted in self-defence, Mayers testified at Stockholm District Court on Thursday.
He said that on the night of the alleged assault, Jafari and his friend refused to leave the star’s entourage alone, despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
The situation became tense after Jafari got into an argument with one of the star’s bodyguards near a fast-food restaurant, he told the court.
“After a while, my security guard started pushing him away, begging him to leave,” said Mayers. The rapper told the court that he and his entourage just wanted to “de-escalate” the situation.
“Me and my crew told them that, listen, don’t go where we are going, go the other way, we don’t want any trouble,” Mayers said. However, he claimed that Jafari was persistent and would not leave.
“I assumed that these guys were under the influence of some kind of drug,” Mayers told the court.
A fight then broke out shortly afterwards. Prosecutors allege that Mayers and the two other suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground. They claim Jafari was hit with parts of or a whole bottle.
The case and Mr Trump’s involvement has created tensions in US-Sweden diplomatic relations.
Mr Trump, who got involved after being made aware of the situation by Kanye West, asked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven before the trial to help free Mayers. The Swedish leader said he could not interfere in a legal case, leading Trump to tweet messages saying he was “very disappointed”.
Mr Trump has said he would personally vouch for Mayers’ bail, although Sweden does not have a bail system.
The president has sent Ambassador Robert O’Brien, the US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, to Sweden to monitor the court proceedings.
Jafari, his friend, witnesses and Mayers’ bodyguard are also due to give evidence on Thursday, and the trial is set to continue on Friday.
Mayers’ mother, Renee Black, and several of his relatives are attending the trial.
If convicted, the rapper faces up to two years in prison.