Court confirms man's identity as extradition case rape suspect Nicholas Rossi

ITV News Scotland reporter Louise Scott has been following the case in Edinburgh

A man who has been fighting extradition to the United States has been confirmed as rape suspect Nicholas Rossi, a court has ruled.

The 35-year-old has spent the last 11 months telling the Scottish courts he is Arthur Knight, an orphan from Ireland, who has never been to the US. But on Friday, Edinburgh Sheriff Court found him to be Rossi, a man the US authorities have been seeking in relation to two rape allegations and one of sexual assault. Rossi was first arrested in October last year after checking himself in to a hospital in Glasgow with Covid. It is alleged he faked his own death in the US and fled to Scotland to evade prosecution.

The defendant in the Nicholas Rossi extradition case arrives at Edinburgh Sheriff And Justice Of The Peace Court. Credit: PA

Medical staff and police were able to identify him by comparing his tattoos with pictures of Rossi on an Interpol red notice. A stream of preliminary hearings then took place, which saw Rossi sack at least six lawyers and claim to have been tortured in prison. The hearings culminated in an extraordinary identification case where he insisted his fingerprints had been meddled with and that he had been tattooed while unconscious in hospital in order to resemble Rossi.

Speaking at the long-awaited hearing to establish Rossi’s identity, sheriff Norman McFadyen said: “I am ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities, by the evidence of fingerprint, photographic and tattoo evidence, taken together, supported by the evidence of changes of name, that Mr Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition by the United States.” The sheriff said he would have been prepared to accept the fingerprint evidence alone or the headshots and photos of Rossi’s tattoos on US paperwork taken together as “sufficient” for identifying the wanted man.

Mungo Bovey KC, defending, previously said the evidence heard so far about the tattoos is “vague and insubstantial”. He described the analysis of the fingerprints given by the two forensic experts before the court as “not good”.

Earlier, the court was told that US prosecutors submitted supplementary extradition requests in late October for Rossi. One relates to an allegation of rape in Salt Lake City and another to an allegation of sexual assault elsewhere. Rossi is already fighting an extradition request by authorities in Utah who allege he raped a 21-year-old in the state.

He will now face an extradition hearing, when the Scottish courts will decide whether to send him back to America to face the allegations outlined against him.

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