BERLIN - A$AP Rocky and two associates were found guilty of assault by a Swedish court on Wednesday, capping a case that drew international attention - including from President Donald Trump who provoked a low level diplomatic spat with Sweden after calling for the rapper’s release.
The artist was not sentenced to any prison time, however, because the “assault has not been of such a serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen,” according to a news release by Stockholm’s district court.
Rocky and two of his associates faced up to two years in jail for allegedly assaulting a man in Stockholm at the end of June, but their temporary release on Aug. 2 was seen as a possible indication of a not-guilty verdict or a sentence shorter than the time already served during more than four weeks of pretrial detention.
Speaking at the Real Street Festival in California on Sunday, Rocky called the June altercation an "unfortunate event."
"Hopefully we won't have to go back to jail or nothing like that, that would be crazy," he said, according to Reuters.
Swedish authorities arrested the 30-year-old rapper and two of his associates, Bladimir Emilio Corniel and David Tyrone Rispers, in early July on charges of assault after a June 30 street fight with a 19-year-old man, Mustafa Jafari.
All three pleaded not guilty and Rocky, whose birth name is Rakim Mayers, told the court he acted in self-defense after Jafari accosted him.
"Based on statements from two witnesses, the court finds that the defendants were not subject to a current or imminent criminal attack. Therefore, they were not in a situation where they were entitled to use violence in self-defense," the court said in a press statement.
But the presiding judge, Senior Judge Per Lennerbrant, said in a written statement that "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. This has affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime."
Rocky returned to the United States on Aug 2. after Stockholm's district court ruled that he and his associates were free to travel outside of the country as they awaited a verdict. Trump welcomed the development with a tweet.
"A$AP Rocky released from prison and on his way home to the United States from Sweden," Trump tweeted. "It was a Rocky Week, get home ASAP A$AP!"
On Instagram, the rapper thanked his "FANS, FRIENDS AND ANYONE ACROSS THE GLOBE WHO SUPPORTED ME DURING THESE LAST FEW WEEKS."
The case heightened tensions between the United States and Sweden last month after Trump urged the Swedish prime minister to release the rapper. Swedish leaders criticized Trump, saying they viewed his request as an attempt to interfere with the country's independent judiciary.
Sweden's justice system is ranked among the world's most respected, but the rapper's arrest and weeks-long detention without charges sparked an outcry in the United States. Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West and Justin Bieber called for his release, as did several Democratic members of Congress.
Rocky found a particularly influential - albeit unlikely - ally in Trump. In a tweet, Trump called on the Swedish government to free the rapper and focus on its "real crime problem" - an apparent reference to migrants. Migration status has weighed heavily in this case. The plaintiff is from Afghanistan and has a criminal record.
"Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States," Trump wrote on Twitter - a suggestion the Swedes resoundingly rejected, saying the president was trying to distract from the outrage he provoked with racist tweets targeting four minority congresswomen.
Trump also dispatched his hostage affairs envoy, Robert O’Brien, to Stockholm to attend the trial - a move that has been widely ridiculed in Sweden. O’Brien called Rocky’s release pending a verdict “the right decision.”