Fugitive Nicholas Rossi’s bogus claims of mistaken identity are set to be rehashed in a second extradition hearing following his latest arrest.
Rossi, who is wanted in the US on an array of charges, was visited by cops on Thursday morning at Edinburgh’s Saughton Prison where he is being held on remand.
The arrest was carried out after US authorities submitted a second extradition request with fresh allegations of rape and sexual assault against him.
The 35-year-old appeared via video link at the city’s sheriff court in the afternoon when his lawyer said Rossi still insisted he was the wrong man.
Last week Sheriff Norman McFadyen ruled Rossi was indeed the wanted fugitive under the terms of section 78 of the Extradition Act.
Section 78 requires a sheriff to be satisfied the accused appearing in court is actually the person being sought for extradition.
Sheriff McFadyen set a further hearing for January for the “purpose, if necessary, to address questions of Section 78” and asked for any relevant documents to be submitted.
Prosecutors spent three days presenting a wealth of fingerprint, photographic and witness evidence proving that Rossi was the American suspect.
It’s thought the court may face having to consider Rossi’s bizarre claims that he’s actually an innocent Irishman called Arthur Knight for a second time.
A legal source said: “This is technically a new case with a new warrant for extradition. It’s possible they might have to rerun some of the same evidence on identity.
“One way to shorten proceedings might be if the lawyers adopt their previous positions and, of course, the sheriff has already ruled on the matter.”
Rossi was arrested at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital last December while receiving treatment for Covid-19. He was detained on the original extradition warrant over an alleged 2008 rape in Utah.
During Thursday’s hearing, defence agent Andrew Docherty told the court: “I represent Mr Knight. He does not accept he is the subject of the warrant and he does not consent to his extradition in respect of this matter.”
Sheriff McFadyen asked Rossi if he’d seen a copy of the warrant.
Rossi gave a lengthy and largely incoherent response in an Irish accent, the one which a prosecutor previously branded “all over the place”, before answering “yes”.
Advocate depute Paul Harvey said the second extradition warrant had been certified by Scottish Ministers on November 9, a warrant issued against Rossi by a sheriff two days later, and he’d been arrested at Saughton that morning.
Mr Harvey suggested the next hearing be set for January 5 when the court was already due to consider the next stage of Rossi’s first extradition case.
Sheriff McFadyen agreed the two cases should call on the same day. He reiterated to the Crown his previous concerns over the quality of documents provided by US authorities if such evidence was being presented.
In his ruling on Rossi’s identity last week, the sheriff criticised the “poor quality” of fingerprint documents presented to the court.
Mr Harvey said he’d pass along the matter to US law enforcement.
As bail wasn’t requested, Sheriff McFadyen ordered Rossi continue to be held on remand.
The sheriff blasted Rossi’s claims to be Arthur Knight in his written ruling on identity last week.
He called Rossi’s allegation he was tattooed while in a coma in the Glasgow hospital to frame him as “implausible and fanciful”.
The sheriff said Rossi’s “highly suspicious” change of names in recent years was “consistent with someone who was hiding from someone or something”.
He concluded: “I am ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities, by the evidence of fingerprint, photographic and tattoo evidence, taken together, supported by the change of names, that Mr Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition to the United States.”