STOCKHOLM — It looked like a small-time assault case, but, somehow, it swept up Kim Kardashian West, President Trump and the United States’ top hostage negotiator. And on Wednesday it reached its climax, when judges here in Stockholm found the rapper ASAP Rocky guilty of assault.
But he will not serve any more jail time, having already spent over a month in a Swedish detention center.
Swedish prosecutors had sought a six-month prison sentence for Rocky for his part in a street brawl in Stockholm on June 30 that left a 19-year-old man bleeding and needing medical treatment.
But a panel of four judges, led by Senior Judge Per Lennerbrant, found that the assault was not of such a “serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen.”
Rocky said this month during the trial that he had acted in self-defense when he threw the man, Mustafa Jafari, to the ground, and then, along with two members of his entourage, punched and kicked him.
Mr. Jafari had repeatedly harassed the rapper’s entourage, and had thrown a punch at his bodyguard just before the attack, Rocky said.
The judges found his defense unconvincing. “Based on two witness statements, the court finds the defendants were not subject to imminent attack,” the judgment said. “Therefore, the defendants were not entitled to use violence in self-defense.”
The court ordered Rocky and his two co-defendants, Bladimir Emilio Corniel and David Tyrone Rispers, to pay Mr. Jafari damages. In the trial, Mr. Jafari’s lawyer asked for about $16,000 in compensation, but the court awarded 12,500 Swedish kronor, about $1,300, for pain, insult and injuries.
There had been much discussion in the trial over whether a bottle was used in the assault. Mr. Jafari said he had been hit on the side of the head with one, but was unable to say by whom. Rocky admitted picking up a bottle shortly before the fight, but said he put it back down shortly afterward because he “realized it was stupid.”
“The prosecutor has not been able to prove that the victim was struck in the back of the head with a bottle or that he was in any other way assaulted with bottles,” said Judge Lennerbrant said in a news release. “This has affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime,” he added.
“We’re disappointed,” Slobodan Jovicic, Rocky’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Jovicic said he had yet not been able to speak with Rocky, and did not know whether the rapper would appeal the verdict. “The question is whether he’ll have the energy and stamina to do this one more time given all the circus around it,” he added.
Rocky and his two co-defendants served almost a month in detention in Sweden after they were arrested. Seen as flight risks, they were kept in the detention center from July 5, while the case was investigated, until the trial ended on Aug. 2.
Mr. Trump became a close watcher of the case after the rap superstar Kanye West asked his wife, Ms. Kardashian West, to seek White House help in winning Rocky’s release from jail.
The president ramped up the pressure on Sweden, a longtime ally, beginning with a cordial phone call to the prime minister, then critical messages on Twitter, and, finally, by dispatching a special envoy for hostage affairs, Robert O’Brien, to watch over the trial.
In a letter to Swedish officials during the trial, Mr. O’Brien warned of “negative consequences” for American-Swedish relations if Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was not released.
Swedish officials, including the prime minister, said repeatedly that they would not intervene in the case, citing the rule of law.
Judge Lennerbrant said in an interview after the verdict that Mr. Trump’s intervention had no impact on the decision. “I have not been subjected to any political pressure, nor has the district court,” he said.
On Aug. 2, at the end of the trial, the judges allowed Rocky and his two co-defendants to be released while they awaited the verdict. They were not required to stay in Sweden and quickly returned to the United States.
Swedish legal experts said at the time that their release was a sign that defendants would most likely be found not guilty, or found guilty and sentenced to time served.
Christina Anderson reported from Stockholm, and Alex Marshall from London.
Alex Marshall is a European culture reporter, based in London. @alexmarshall81
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