I wrote here about the assault case against rapper A$AP Rocky, who, while in Stockholm, beat up an immigrant to Sweden for the sin of following him around and disobeying instructions by the rapper’s body guard not to do so. Swedish authorities arrested Rocky and two members of his crew and held them in custody pending trial, pursuant to Swedish law.
At the urging of Kanye West and his Kardashian wife, President Trump intervened in the matter. He asked Sweden’s prime minister to release the rapper. When that didn’t work, he had the State Department’s hostage affairs negotiator fly to Sweden to see what he could do.
The Swedes held to their entirely reasonable position that Rocky and his pals would be tried. However, after a preliminary hearing, they released the three defendants and permitted them to leave the country.
The Swedish court surely understood that the defendants weren’t going to return to Sweden. Thus, their release suggested that even if Rocky were to be found guilty, he wouldn’t likely be sentenced to jail time.
Today, the Swedish court reached a decision. It found Rocky and his co-defendants guilty of assault, but ruled that they will not serve any jail time on top of the one month served after their arrest.
The court rejected Rocky’s self-defense claim, which was contradicted by two eye-witnesses. However, it also found insufficient evidence that Rocky struck his victim with a bottle — an act that very likely would have left the court with no just option other than sentencing the rapper to prison time.
The victim said he was hit on the side of the head with a bottle, but was unable to say by whom. Rocky admitted picking up a bottle shortly before the fight (an admission that might have been unavoidable, given the evidence), but claimed he put it down shortly afterward because he “realized it was stupid.” He was right about the “stupid” part.
There’s a good chance that Rocky did hit the guy with a bottle, but the court was correct in finding the evidence insufficient to support such a conclusion. The court was similarly correct in not sentencing the defendants to prison time, given the absence of prior crimes in Sweden and the lack of sufficient evidence that any of them hit the victim with a bottle.
The court ordered the defendants to pay a small amount of money to the victim. However, with the defendants safely back in the U.S., I don’t see how the Swedes can enforce this award if the defendants refuse to pay.
Rocky said he was disappointed by the verdict. He thanked his team, his fans, and everyone who supported him. He did not thank President Trump or the U.S. “hostage negotiator” by name.
The outcome of this affair seems just, more or less. However, an angry editorial writer for the Daily Caller, who had called for considering military options against the Swedes to free Rocky, seems still to believe that use of the military should not be ruled out.
It looks like the writer didn’t notice that the article he linked to says at the very top that Rocky got off without a jail sentence. But a military option would have ridiculous even Rocky had been sentenced to jail time.