A$AP Rocky testifies at trial, says he tried to avoid fight

STOCKHOLM (AP) — American rapper A$AP Rocky testified Thursday at his assault trial in Sweden that he did everything possible to avoid conflict with two men he said persistently followed his entourage in Stockholm, saying that one of the men picked a fight with one of his bodyguards.

Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, is accused along with two other men believed to be members of his entourage of beating a 19-year-old man, Mustafa Jafari, in central Stockholm on the evening of June 30.

Mayers told Stockholm District Court that Jafari and his friend refused to leave the entourage alone despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

He said the situation became tense after Jafari got into an argument with one of Mayers' bodyguards near a fast-food restaurant where the rapper's entourage had stopped to download an app to use electric scooters, which are widely available on the streets of Stockholm.

"After a while, my security guard started pushing him (victim) away, begging him to leave," said Mayers, who appeared in court wearing an all-green inmate uniform. He testified that he and his entourage just wanted to "de-escalate" the situation.

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PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 27: A$AP Rocky performs at Le Zenith on June 27, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns)
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 22: ASAP Rocky is seen wearing batik tshirt outside Loewe during Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2020 on June 22, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 22: ASAP Rocky is seen wearing batik tshirt outside Loewe during Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2020 on June 22, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 15: Rapper A$AP Rocky performs on stage during Breakout Festival 2019 at PNE Amphitheatre on June 15, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - MAY 28: Rakim Mayers, aka A$AP Rocky, attends Gucci Cruise 2020 at Musei Capitolini on May 28, 2019 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli/ Getty Images for Gucci)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 12: A$AP Rocky performs in concert at Park Avenue Armory on May 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - APRIL 13: A$AP Rocky performs at the MARQUEE Singapore grand opening celebration on April 13, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images for MARQUEE Singapore)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: ASAP Rocky attends the CASA LOEWE New Bond Street opening on April 25, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: ASAP Rocky, Josh Rubin and Gorden Wagener attend Featured Session: Using Design "Differently" to Make a Difference during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: ASAP Rocky speaks onstage at Featured Session: Using Design "Differently" to Make a Difference during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 11: Rapper, actor and creative director A$AP Rocky is interviewed live on stage during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festival at the Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jim Bennett/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 28: A$AP Rocky attends "La Nuit" by Sofitel Party with CR Fashion Book at Pavillon Cambon during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020 on February 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images)
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"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. But he said that Jafari was persistent and just wouldn't go away.

"I assumed that these guys were under the influence of some kind of drug," Mayers told the court.

A full-scale brawl ensued shortly afterward at a nearby side street and prosecutors allege that Mayers and the two other suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground. They said Jafari was hit with parts of or a whole bottle.

The rapper, 30, pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial Tuesday, saying he acted in self-defense.

The trial has created a stir in U.S.-Swedish diplomatic relations after President Donald Trump weighed in on the case in support of the Grammy-nominated recording artist.

Besides Mayers, Thursday's court session is reserved for testimony from the alleged victim, his friend, witnesses and Mayers' bodyguard.

His mother, Renee Black, and several of his relatives were present at the courtroom.

The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities and Mayers' fellow recording artists, including Sean "Diddy" Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign for his release, #JusticeForRocky, was created soon after his arrest.

Trump has spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on the phone, offering to personally guarantee A$AP Rocky's bail, but the Swedish leader said he couldn't interfere in a legal case.

Sweden doesn't have a bail system and Mayers has stayed behind bars despite Trump's intervention. Trump has sent Ambassador Robert O. Brien, the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, to Sweden to monitor the court proceedings.

If convicted, Mayers faces up to two years in prison.

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Jari Tanner reported from Helsinki.

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