Nicholas Rossi: Rape suspect accused of faking death to avoid prosecution can be extradited to US, court rules

A Scottish court has ruled that a rape suspect accused of faking his death to avoid prosecution can be extradited to the US to face charges. Nicholas Rossi, who is wanted by authorities in Utah for allegedly raping a woman in 2008, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday. Sheriff Norman McFadyen ruled that there is no impediment to his extradition. 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 named Arthur Knight. Scottish ministers will now consider Sheriff McFadyen’s ruling.

During the court hearing, Rossi, who claimed to be unwell, appeared by video link and did not show his face. His lawyer Mungo Bovey KC attempted to delay proceedings and asked for Rossi to be excused. Rossi objected to the proceedings, stating that he had been brought before the camera by “physical force” and called the sheriff “a disgrace to justice”.

Throughout the week-long hearing in June, Rossi wore what appeared to be a black legal gown and a yarmulke, claiming that the gown was actually called a bekishe, an overcoat worn by Orthodox Jewish men. He converted to Judaism while in HMP Edinburgh, where he has been held since 2022. The final hearing was adjourned from July due to delays in court proceedings and interruptions by Rossi, who attempted to dismiss his counsel on two occasions.

Rossi’s lawyers argued that extradition to the US would be a “flagrant breach” of his human rights. They also attempted to have the case discharged, as Rossi is wanted for questioning about an alleged rape in England. However, the sheriff turned down these applications, stating that there is no evidence that Rossi suffered any condition that would be a barrier to his extradition.

Dr Barbara Mundweil, Rossi’s GP at HMP Edinburgh, testified that she had “no major concerns” about Rossi’s health. She also cast doubt on his alleged state of health, stating that his legs were “strong and athletic”. A fellow prisoner, William King, claimed that Rossi was treated poorly at HMP Edinburgh.

Rossi was arrested in December 2021 at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and served an Interpol red notice and a National Crime Agency certificate. He claims to have never received the latter. Scottish ministers will now consider whether to approve his extradition to the US to face the charges against him.

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