US rapper A$AP Rocky has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault in Sweden.
The 30-year-old entered the plea on the first day of a trial that has made headlines around the world, attracting attention from celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, Rod Stewart and Justin Bieber, and prompting US President Donald Trump to publicly call for his release.
Mr Trump said he got involved after being made aware of the situation by Kanye West.
A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was detained in connection with a street fight in Stockholm in the early hours of 30 June, and was later charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. He has been in custody since 3 July.
Mayers’ lawyer said his client, sitting next to him the capital’s district court on Tuesday wearing prison clothes of a green T-shirt and trousers, pleaded not guilty to the charge and had acted in self defence.
Both Mayers and the complainant, 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari, will face cross-examination.
The Grammy-nominee, who has previously collaborated with artists including Drake and West, says Mr Jafari provoked him and two companions, who have also been charged with assault.
If convicted, they could face up to two years in jail.
Swedish prosecutors say the rapper and the two other suspects “deliberately, together and in agreement” attacked the teenager.
Prosecutors allege in more than 500 pages of court documents that the three suspects beat and kicked Mr Jafari while he was on the ground and that he was hit by parts of or a whole bottle.
The rapper’s lawyer, Martin Persson, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT that he would present the court with new evidence, including that which shows that “no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone” and that the violence used was “within the limits of the law”.
Mr Trump has asked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to help free Mayers, and later tweeted messages saying he was “very disappointed” in Lofven and demanding: “Treat Americans fairly!”
Mr Trump has said he would personally vouch for Mayers’ bail, although Sweden does not have a bail system.
Sweden’s judiciary is independent of the political system, and Mr Lofven has said he will not influence the rapper’s case.
Mayers, best known for the song Praise the Lord, was in Stockholm for a concert when the alleged incident took place, and has had to cancel several scheduled shows across Europe due to his detention.
Before his arrest, the rapper uploaded videos on Instagram of the moments before the alleged assault, saying two men were following his team and that he did not want any trouble.
The trial is being held in a secure courtroom “because of the large interest from the media and the public,” the Stockholm court has said, with no photographing or filming allowed to take place during the proceedings.
Mayers’ mother Renee Black was pictured arriving at the court on Tuesday morning.
The trial is due to take place on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with a break on Wednesday.
courtesy of Sky News