Court hearing to determine identity of alleged fugitive under way

The man, who claims to be Arthur Knight, is attempting to prove he is not US fugitive Nicholas Rossi.

An identification expert said the fingerprints of man facing extradition to the US are those of a man accused of being the wanted fugitive Nicholas Rossi, a court has heard.

Lisa Davidson, a Tenprint Identification Officer, was called to give evidence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

The man, whom officials in the United States have said is Rossi, is wanted for raping a 21-year-old in Utah, and for attacks on other women.

The 35-year-old, who claims to be called Arthur Knight, has been fighting an extradition hearing by US authorities since he was arrested in December 2021.

Following a stream of preliminary hearings which saw the man fire six lawyers and claim he was being tortured in prison, a case to determine his identity commenced on Monday.

He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in a wheelchair chained to custody officers who were walking closely behind him.

Dressed in a navy pinstripe suit, the man wheeled himself into the court building without saying a word.

Asked at the beginning of the hearing if he was asked if he was Nicholas Rossi or Arthur Knight, he replied: “Arthur Knight.”

His lawyer, Mungo Bovey KC, proceeded to tell the court of multiple issues concerning legal proceedings with regard to his client.

One of these included complaints that some information from a solicitor for the man “seems to be misconstrued by the sheriff”.

He told the court there were legal concerns over the way the warrant for the man’s arrest was issued, and claims his client did not receive the provisional arrest certificate (PAC) after his arrest in December.

Advocate depute Paul Harvey, however, disputed this, claiming action from a previous sheriffs had been what was required of them, and that the man had received the PAC.

An Interpol red notice document for Rossi’s arrest was shown at the hearing.

It featured multiple headshots of Rossi, and his fingerprints.

A document with the fingerprints of the man claiming to be Mr Knight, taken at Saughton Prison in Edinburgh this year, was also shown to the court.

Ms Davidson, who has worked in fingerprint identification for 22 years, was asked by advocate depute Paul Harvey what her conclusion was when she compared the fingerprints on the two documents.

She replied: “I found that they were identical. The fingerprints were identical. All 10 prints were identical.”

Ms Davidson was then asked to compare the man’s fingerprints with those of the wanted man Rossi’s on an extradition request, also shown before the court.

She said the quality of the fingerprints on the extradition request was bad, but said she was able to confirm the left forefinger and thumb were the same as the man’s.

Sheriff Norman McFadyen adjourned the hearing until Monday afternoon to address the lawyers’ submissions.

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