Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

After leaving the nightclub the women had no idea that a man had been following them into the autumn night last year in Helsinki.

During two separate incidents, the man had been sneaking behind his victims into the stairwell.

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When the victim was to open the door to the apartment, the man had forcefully entered in.

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“I will have sex with you,” the man said, according to the court documents.

After struggling, tears, and trying to fight off the intruder in the place that was supposed to be safest in the world, the man raped his victim.

Today, the Helsinki Court of Appeal condemned the perpetrator, Raed Al Mustafa, to prison for three years and six months for two rapes and one attempted rape. In addition, he was sentenced to pay 16,000 euros to the victims for their sufferings. Al Mustafa had arrived in Finland as a refugee from Syria. He had raped the women only two months after arriving in the country.

The attempted rape happened during one of the nights when one of his other victims was raped. This time Al Mustafa tried to force the woman to intercourse in the staircase of the apartment building. But this time, the woman was able to scream and get into the staircase by slamming the door behind her. The man didn’t get in.

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Prior to today’s sentence in the district court, Al Mustafa had denied the two rapes and the attempted one. He, however, admitted that he had done the way just described.

At the district court, he had tried to explain to the court that he didn’t know that he was committing a crime. He said that he had arrived from Syria and that after arriving in Finland, he hadn’t been explained what a rape is, according to the Finnish law.

He believed that “in Europe, it’s allowed to have sex freely.”

The judge didn’t buy it. Al Mustafa was sentenced to prison.

He decided to appeal against his sentence.

At the court of appeal, he claimed that he had been condemned to his sentence as a minor and therefore should be given reduced jail time. He also said that he had lived years in Syria under “dangerous circumstances.” He had arrived in Finland just a few months before the rapes and had yet to adjust to the Finnish culture.

At the court, he said that he believed that “in Europe, it’s allowed to have sex freely.”

The Helsinki Court of Appeal did not think that his background in Syria had any grounds to reduce Al Mustafa’s sentence. The court was also not able to confirm that he was a minor.

He had received identification papers in Hungary and according to the papers the Al Mustafa had been born in 1999. During the police investigation, he had claimed to be born in 2000. Later, at the court of appeal, he said that he had been born in 2001.

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Al Mustafa said that he became enlightened of the fact that he was a minor while spending time in jail.

He had not realized that he would be spending “such a long time” in prison.