Rape suspect Nicholas Rossi can be extradited to US
A rape suspect accused of faking his own death to avoid prosecution can be extradited to the US to face charges, a court has ruled.
Nicholas Rossi is wanted by authorities in Utah for allegedly raping a woman in 2008.
He also faces multiple complaints against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence.
The 35-year-old learned his fate on Wednesday at Edinburgh Sheriff Court when Sheriff Norman McFadyen ruled there is no impediment to him being extradited.
Despite a court ruling last November that he is Rossi, the accused insists it is a case of mistaken identity and that he is an Irish orphan called Arthur Knight.
Sheriff McFadyen’s ruling will now be considered by Scottish ministers.
Rossi appeared at the court on Wednesday by video link after claiming to be unwell.
He was bent over at the waist, dressed in a green jumper and did not show his face.
When asked if he is Rossi, he did not answer.
Rossi’s lawyer Mungo Bovey KC attempted to delay proceedings and asked for Rossi to be excused.
Sheriff McFadyen suggested Rossi had attended court by videolink “voluntarily”, but in an angry outburst Rossi said he had been brought before the camera by “physical force” and he called the sheriff “a disgrace to justice”.
During a week-long hearing in June, Rossi wore what appeared to be a black legal gown and a yarmulke – a hat worn by Orthodox Jewish men.
Questioned about his dress in court, Rossi claimed the gown was actually called a bekishe, an overcoat also worn by Orthodox Jewish men.
The fugitive converted to Judaism while in HMP Edinburgh, where he has been held since 2022.
This final hearing was adjourned from July 12 following delays in court proceedings due to issues with transport from HMP Edinburgh as well as interruptions by Rossi, who attempted to dismiss his counsel Mr Bovey on two occasions.
Throughout the June hearing, Mr Bovey attempted to have the case discharged as his client is wanted for questioning about an alleged rape in England.
He also claimed Rossi was not brought before a sheriff within an appropriate amount of time and that he did not receive a crucial document from the National Crime Agency when he was arrested in December 2021 – but all of these applications were turned down by the sheriff.
Attempts were also made to give more time for Rossi’s mental health to be assessed, but three medical witnesses including psychiatrists Dr Kunal Choudhary and Dr Angela Cogan, as well as Rossi’s GP at HMP Edinburgh Dr Barbara Mundweil, said he showed no signs of acute mental illness.
Dr Mundweil also cast doubt on the state of Rossi’s health in general, telling the court she had “no major concerns”.
Giving evidence in his defence, Rossi claimed he was unable to raise his arms above his head because he was too unwell.
He said the reason he used a wheelchair was because the muscles in his legs had been so badly atrophied that he is unable to walk or support himself.
He also said he had considered going to the US to prove he is not Rossi.
A fellow prisoner, William King, gave evidence to court in which he claimed Rossi was treated “abysmally” at HMP Edinburgh.
In closing speeches, Mr Bovey said extradition to the US would be a “flagrant breach” of Rossi’s human rights.
But advocate depute Alan Cameron said there is no evidence that Rossi suffered any condition that would be a barrier to his extradition.
Previously, he had arrived at court in his wheelchair and with an oxygen tank and mask.
Asked by Mr Cameron about his wheelchair use, Dr Mundweil said there is “no reason” for Rossi to be using an electric wheelchair and that his legs are “strong and athletic”.
The GP also told the court she saw a video appearing to be of Rossi kicking open a door and kicking a prison officer in the face, despite using a manual wheelchair in prison.
Rossi was arrested at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on December 13, 2021 after being traced by Police Scotland.
He was served an Interpol red notice and a National Crime Agency certificate, a document Rossi claims never to have received, while he was in hospital in December 2021.
Published: by Radio NewsHub