Man in Scottish court denies being international fugitive with 16 aliases

A man who appeared in a Scottish court using a wheelchair and attached to an oxygen cylinder has denied being an international fugitive with 16 aliases.

The man, who was traced to an intensive care unit in Glasgow while being treated for Covid-19 last December, denied being 34-year-old Nicholas Rossi, who is wanted by Interpol and faces extradition to the US over an allegation of sexual assault in Utah.

After a hearing before Sheriff Alistair Noble on Friday afternoon at Edinburgh sheriff court, he was remanded in custody after prosecutors described him as a “significant flight risk”.

The individual, who prosecutors believe is Rossi, is thought to have used the alias Arthur Knight when he was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth university hospital in Glasgow for urgent treatment. He is understood to have been on a ventilator in the intensive care unit when he was arrested on 13 December.

Rossi, who also used the name Nicholas Alahverdian, told US media in December 2019 that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live. A number of outlets reported that he had died in February 2020.

Rossi is accused by Utah prosecutors of fleeing the US to avoid a sexual assault charge in 2008. Authorities in Rhode Island have said Rossi is also wanted in their state for failing to register as a sex offender, while the FBI confirmed he faces fraud charges in Ohio.

On Friday afternoon the man was brought into court by paramedics. He was wearing pyjamas and socks, and his head was covered by a towel.

He had been initially granted bail after a virtual hearing on 23 December, after appearing via video link from hospital.

But he failed to appear at a hearing on Thursday, prompting Noble to issue a warrant. Officers from Police Scotland re-arrested him at a property in the Woodlands area of Glasgow hours later.

On Friday the prosecutor Jennifer Johnston told Sheriff Noble that the crown believed that the man, who she called Mr Rossi, should have his bail revoked.

She said the court had granted the man bail because it believed he would continue to remain in the Queen Elizabeth hospital for “several weeks” for treatment, but in fact he had checked himself out of hospital the following day.

Johnston said police and hospital staff identified the man as being Nicholas Rossi from tattoos on his body, but fingerprints had yet to be taken.

During proceedings, the man could be heard shouting “that’s not true”, and at one stage paramedics were called back into court to monitor his wellbeing.

Johnston said he was taken to Queen Elizabeth hospital for assessment after his arrest on Thursday, where a senior doctor found he was sufficiently well to attend court and continue “oxygen therapy”.

There will be a procedural hearing at Edinburgh sheriff court on 10 February, with a full hearing on whether the man should be extradited on 17 February.

Edinburgh Courts Agency and Associated Press contributed to this report

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