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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

Rape suspect accused of faking own death extradited from Scotland to US

Nicholas Rossi waves with one hand and holds documents in another
Nicholas Rossi pictured leaving Edinburgh sheriff court during an extradition hearing in June last year. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

A fugitive accused of faking his own death to avoid rape charges in Utah and who was eventually traced to a Covid ward in Scotland has finally been extradited to the US.

Nicholas Rossi, 36, is wanted by authorities in Utah for allegedly raping a woman in 2008. He also faces complaints against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence.

Police Scotland confirmed on Friday they had “assisted partner agencies with the extradition of a 36-year-old man”, concluding a lengthy court battle to bring Rossi to justice.

Rossi, who is believed to use a number of aliases, has consistently argued that this is a case of mistaken identity and he is an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight, who had never travelled to the US, but a court ruled in November 2022 that he was Rossi.

During numerous court appearances, Rossi has disrupted proceedings and earned rebukes from the sitting judges, sacking his own lawyers on at least six occasions and alleging he has been tortured in prison. When he has not claimed to be too unwell to appear in person, he has arrived at court in a wheelchair and using an oxygen mask.

In December, Rossi lost his final appeal after Scottish ministers approved an order made in September giving permission for his extradition to the US to face charges.

At that hearing Dr Barbara Mundweil, Rossi’s GP at HMP Edinburgh, said he showed no signs of acute mental illness. She had “no major concerns” about his general health.

Mundweil said there was no reason for Rossi to be using an electric wheelchair and that his legs were “strong and athletic”.

Rossi first came to the attention of the Scottish authorities in December 2021 after checking himself in to a hospital in Glasgow with Covid-19. Medical staff and police concluded he was Rossi after comparing his tattoos with pictures of Rossi on an Interpol red notice.

At the November 2022 hearing, Edinburgh sheriff court ruled that the man’s tattoos and fingerprints matched those of Rossi.

Rossi claimed his fingerprints had been meddled with and that he had been tattooed while unconscious in hospital in order to resemble the wanted man.

On Thursday Rossi was rebailed while inquiries continued after he was arrested in October in connection with another allegation of rape in Chelmsford, Essex, in 2017.

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