A Norwegian man in his 20s has been arrested in the northern city of Tromsø and charged with raping and exploiting the hardship of a 17-year-old refugee from Ukraine. He denies the charges and was demanding to be released.
Police seemed to put special emphasis on the charges of “exploiting a person under the age of 18 who is in an especially vulnerable situation in life.” The alleged rape reportedly occurred on Thursday evening, not long after the teenage girl from Ukraine had arrived in Norway.
“It’s not possible to describe how difficult this is for her,” the girl’s publicly appointed lawyer, Ingunn Tøffelsen, told state broadcaster NRK Saturday morning. “She fled bombing in Ukraine and came here. She thought she was safe, and then she experiences this. It’s impossible to even imagine how she feels right now.”
The alleged assailant’s defense attorney, Håvard Utstøl Jakobsen, said his client was demanding to be released. “Beyond that I have no comment,” Jakobsen told NRK.
Police, meanwhile, are asking the local court to keep him in custody for at least four weeks, because of what they claim is a risk of repeat assault. Police described him as a repeat offender but declined to offer more details while their investigation continues.
Most of the refugees fleeing Russia’s war on Ukraine are women and children. Warnings have already gone out that they’re especially vulnerable to human trafficking and assault, not only while on the run but also after arriving at asylum centers all over Europe.
NRK reported earlier this week that the leader of one center in Norway had called police twice to report that some men were seeking contact with the women staying at the center. Police confirmed they had taken at least one in for questioning and asked others to leave.