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article imageSwedish court extends US rapper ASAP Rocky's detention

By Johannes LEDEL (AFP)     Jul 19, 2019 in World

A Stockholm court on Friday ordered that US rapper ASAP Rocky should be kept in custody in Sweden for another week while an investigation is completed into an alleged assault during a street brawl.

Fans and fellow artists have campaigned on social media for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest shortly after midnight on July 3 following the street fight on June 30.

The Stockholm District Court ordered on July 5 that Mayers should be kept in custody while the case was being investigated, as he was considered a "flight risk".

The court then gave the prosecutor until July 19 to decide on whether to press charges.

However the prosecutor requested the deadline be extended to next week as they needed more time to complete the investigation, which the court granted.

The rapper's lawyer Slobodan Jovicic said he was "very disappointed" with the court&a...
The rapper's lawyer Slobodan Jovicic said he was "very disappointed" with the court's decision
Fredrik PERSSON, TT News Agency/AFP

"The deadline to press charges has been extended to Thursday July 25 at 11 am (0900 GMT). The suspect will until then remain in detention," the court said in a statement on Friday.

"Now we'll have time to complete the investigation," said prosecutor Daniel Suneson said.

- 'Very disappointed' -

Mayers' lawyer Slobodan Jovicic called the court's decision disproportionate.

He said that it was unreasonable to assume Mayers was a "flight risk" since not returning for a potential trial could mean that the rapper would never be able to visit Europe again, for fear of getting arrested.

"I am very disappointed, even though this was very much expected, given (Sweden's) regulations for detentions and that it's very easy to detain someone," Jovicic told reporters following the decision.

Jovicic also said that if the prosecutor does press charges and the case goes to trial he was confident that "Mayers in the end will be acquitted and that he will be able to go home".

An online petition called #JusticeForRocky has garnered more than 600 000 signatures
An online petition called #JusticeForRocky has garnered more than 600,000 signatures

The rapper has claimed he was acting in self-defence, reacting to the provocations of two young men who harassed and followed him and his entourage.

Three other people were arrested alongside Mayer and one of them -- the rapper's bodyguard - was later released.

Part of the incident was captured in a amateur video published by US celebrity news outlet TMZ.

In the video, the rapper, who was in Stockholm for a concert, can be seen throwing one of the men into the street and then aiming several punches at him while he is down.

However Mayers posted his own videos on Instagram showing the lead-up to the clash in which the young man can be seen arguing with the rapper, who repeatedly asks the man and his friend to stop following them.

One of the young men can also been seen hitting a member of the artist's entourage.

According to the Swedish Prosecution Authority a separate investigation into assault and harassment committed by the plaintiffs is also ongoing.

- #FreeRocky -

Fellow artists like Post Malone, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and Justin Bieber have taken to social media to voice their support for Mayers.

An online petition called #JusticeForRocky has garnered more than 600,000 signatures, and posters with the words "Free ASAP Rocky ASAP" have been put up around Stockholm.

US media reported Thursday that reality television star Kim Kardashian West, who has recently campaigned for criminal justice reform, had contacted the White House over the case..

ASAP Rocky was born in New York and had a breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape "...
ASAP Rocky was born in New York and had a breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape "Live. Love. ASAP"

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Carl Risch, met with the rapper in Stockholm on Friday morning, the TT news agency reported, and he is scheduled to meet with representatives of Sweden's foreign ministry.

Several members of the US congress have also called for the New York-born rapper's release.

Former US ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski, told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that he had contacted the country's foreign ministry and the Swedish royal family, calling the rapper's arrest a matter of "racial injustice".

Sweden's foreign ministry responded by saying that the country's justice system is independent from the government.

Fans of the rapper have also been enraged by claims that the artist was being held in "inhumane conditions" -- allegations made by the artist's manager as well as a TMZ report quoting anonymous sources.

However the director of the remand prison where he is being held quickly denied the claims, adding that the facility had been recently refurbished.

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