Rapper A$AP Rocky heading back to US as verdict looms

STOCKHOLM — Rapper A$AP Rocky and two other American suspects were temporarily freed from a Swedish jail and planning to head back to the U.S. on Friday as judges mull a verdict in the assault case against them.

The Stockholm District Court released the 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, as well as David Rispers Jr. and Bladimir Corniel until Aug. 14 —when a verdict is expected in the case. They are accused of beating 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari on June 30 outside a fast-food restaurant in central Stockholm.

The three suspects were seen hugging each other at the court after they learned they would be released as some of the public gathered inside the courthouse loudly cheered.

Mayers’ mother, Renee Black, who was present throughout the court proceedings, was with her son when he was released. A private plane was waiting at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport to transport the suspects and Black back to the U.S. Friday evening, according to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

Mayers shared an emotional post on Instagram after he was released, thanking his fans for their support during this “very difficult and humbling experience.”

President Donald Trump, who had caused a stir in U.S.-Swedish diplomatic relations after publicly offering support to the Grammy-nominated recording artist, celebrated Mayers’ release, tweeting , “It was a Rocky Week, get home ASAP A$AP!”

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven heard an appeal from Trump in July, but said he couldn’t interfere in a legal case.

Robert O’Brien, a U.S. 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.

The case has also drawn the attention of celebrities, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber, and a social media campaign that was pressing for the rapper’s release.

Mayers’ release came after his three-day trial concluded Friday.

One of the witnesses to the assault revised her story from initial police reports, testifying that she didn’t actually see Mayers hit Jafari with a bottle — a key issue the trial focused on. She and a friend, testifying anonymously at Stockholm District Court, both maintained their previous statements to police that they saw Mayers and his partners assaulting Jafari.

“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.”

The rapper pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial Tuesday, saying he acted in self-defence when Jafari and another man would not leave them alone. He had been behind bars since he was arrested on July 3.

Mayers’ bodyguard, Timothy Leon Williams, also testified Friday, sharing a similar story 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.

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