August 03, 2019

A$AP Rocky arrives back in US after release from Swedish prison amid looming assault verdict
Rapper A$AP Rocky has returned to the US amid a looming verdict in an assault case against him in Sweden. The 30-year-old, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was released from jail in southern Sweden on Friday by judges who are mulling a verdict against him and two other Americans that is expected on 14 August. Nearly a month after his arrest in Stockholm, Los Angeles media reported the artist was among a number of people shown emerging from a private plane at Los Angeles International Airport. Along with David Rispers Jr and Bladimir Corniel, the rapper is accused of beating 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari on 30 June outside a fast food restaurant in central Stockholm. Mayers, who had been jailed since his 3 July arrest, pleaded not guilty at the start of the three-day trial on Tuesday. One of the witnesses to the assault revised her story from initial police reports, testifying Friday that she did not actually see Mayers hit Jafari with a bottle – a key focus of the trial. She and a friend, testifying anonymously at Stockholm District Court, both maintained they did see Mayers and his partners assaulting Jafari, however. "Everything happened very quickly. We were scared for our lives," the first woman told the court in Swedish. "He (Jafari) was bleeding. He showed his injuries on his hand. He also said he had a sore back." Mayers said he acted in self defence when Jafari and another man would not leave them alone. Mayers' bodyguard, Timothy Leon Williams, also testified Friday, sharing a story similar to what the rapper told the courtroom when he took the stand earlier in the week. Williams said he asked Jafari to "go away" when he approached the group a second time outside the restaurant. "I knew something's not right about him. I'm noticing it because I'm a bodyguard," Williams said in English. "And now, I'm looking at him like, 'Yo, what's wrong with you?' I'm looking at him and saw that his eyes were really glossy, like he's on something." Mayers had also testified earlier this week that he suspected Jafari and his friend were under the influence of some drug, which officials have not yet commented on. The case has attracted the attention of prominent figures, from Justin Bieber to Donald Trump. Mr Trump, who caused a stir in US-Swedish diplomatic relations after publicly offering support to the Grammy-nominated artist, celebrated the temporary release. "It was a Rocky Week, get home ASAP A$AP!" the US president said in a tweet. Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven heard an appeal from Mr Trump in July, but said he could not interfere in a legal case. Robert O'Brien, a US special presidential envoy sent to monitor the court proceedings, stressed that Washington was "grateful that I got to attend and observe the judicial process" in Sweden. But in a leaked diplomatic letter sent to the Swedish Prosecution Authority on 31 July, obtained by CNN, Mr O'Brien was rather more threatening, when he warned of "potentially negative consequences" if the case failed to be resolved "as soon as possible". The letter requested Mayers be immediately released from prison and instead placed under house arrest at a local Stockholm hotel.After learning they would be released, the three suspects shared hugs as some of the public gathered inside the courthouse loudly cheered. Mayers' mother, Renee Black, was present throughout court proceedings and was with her son when he was released. The rapper shared an emotional post on Instagram after he was released, thanking his fans for their support during this "very difficult and humbling experience". "Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of my fans, friends and anyone across the globe who supported me during these last few weeks," Mayers wrote."I can't begin to describe how grateful I am for all of you. This has been a very difficult and humbling experience. I want to thank the court for allowing me, Bladi and Thoto to return to our family and friends. Thanks again for all of the love and support."Additional reporting by AP
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