Scottish ministers approve extradition of rape suspect who faked his own death

Who is Nicholas Rossi and what is he accused of?

  • Nicholas Rossi is a 45-year-old man who is wanted in the US on a charge of rape and multiple complaints of domestic violence.
  • He is accused of raping a woman in Utah in 2008 and then fleeing the country, using various aliases and disguises to evade arrest.
  • He is also accused of faking his own death in 2010 by staging a car crash and leaving behind a charred body that was later identified as his.
  • He was arrested in Glasgow in 2021 after he was recognised by a former girlfriend who saw him on a dating app.

How did the Scottish courts rule on his extradition?

  • Rossi’s extradition case was heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where he challenged the US request on several grounds, including his identity, health and human rights.
  • He claimed that he was not Nicholas Rossi, but Arthur Knight, an Irish orphan who was adopted by a Jewish family in New York and later converted to Judaism.
  • He also claimed that he had various medical conditions that prevented him from travelling, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and spinal injuries.
  • He also claimed that he would face an unfair trial and possible torture if he was extradited to the US, where he said he had been framed by corrupt officials and mafia bosses.
  • However, his claims were rejected by Sheriff Norman McFadyen, who described him as “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative”.
  • The sheriff ruled that there was no impediment to his extradition and that the US authorities had provided sufficient evidence and assurances to warrant his removal.

nicholas rossi in court with wheelchair and oxygen bottle

How did the Scottish ministers decide on his extradition?

  • The final decision on Rossi’s extradition was made by the Scottish ministers, who had to consider whether there were any legal or political reasons to refuse or delay his transfer.
  • The Scottish Government revealed in a freedom of information response that the ministers had signed an extradition order for Rossi on September 28, 2023.
  • The ministers did not disclose their reasons for approving the extradition, but they said they had followed the relevant legislation and guidance in making their decision.
  • The ministers also said they had taken into account the views of the Lord Advocate, the chief legal officer of Scotland, who had supported the extradition request.

What are the reactions and implications of the extradition order?

  • The extradition order has been welcomed by the US authorities, who have been seeking Rossi’s return for over a decade.
  • The US Department of Justice said it was “grateful” to the Scottish Government for its cooperation and assistance in the case.
  • The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah said it was “ready” to prosecute Rossi for the rape charge and other offences.
  • The extradition order has also been praised by Rossi’s alleged victims, who have been waiting for justice and closure for years.
  • One of them, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was “relieved” and “happy” that Rossi would finally face trial.
  • She said she hoped he would “get what he deserves” and that he would “never hurt anyone again”.
  • The extradition order has also been criticised by Rossi’s lawyers, who have vowed to challenge it in the courts.
  • They said they were “disappointed” and “surprised” by the ministers’ decision, which they said was “unlawful” and “unjust”.
  • They said they would seek a judicial review of the order and apply for an interim suspension of his removal.

What will happen next?

  • The result of the extradition order is that Rossi can now be moved to the US, where he will face trial for his alleged crimes.
  • However, the order may still be subject to legal challenges and delays, which could prolong his stay in Scotland.
  • Rossi is currently being held at HMP Edinburgh, where he has been since 2022. He has repeatedly attended court in a wheelchair with an oxygen bottle, but his medical claims have been disputed by experts.
  • Rossi may also appeal to the European Court of Human Rights or seek asylum in another country, which could complicate his extradition process.
  • Rossi may also try to escape or fake his death again, which could thwart his extradition altogether.
By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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