A prison guard has been suspended for alleged religiously-motivated abuse against US fugitive Nicolas Rossi, a court has been told.
Rossi, 35, is wanted in America accused of rape and his long-running extradition battle in the Scottish courts is entering its final phase.
The fugitive has been held in HMP Edinburgh since his bail was revoked, and on Wednesday the city’s sheriff court heard claims about his treatment there.
His advocate Neil Shand told Sheriff Norman McFadyen that a number of incidents are said to have taken place inside the jail, including “chanting and name calling” directed towards Rossi.
During a 53-minute preliminary extradition hearing, Mr Shand told the court a prison guard has been suspended for calling Rossi “a name relating to his religious practice”, which was described as a “religious slur”.
Rossi has said he has converted to Judaism behind bars, previously describing himself as “Anglo-Catholic”.
He said another inmate had said Rossi has been the victim of abuse from “prisoners and from prison staff”.
Rossi, whose wife Miranda Knight attended the court to listen to proceedings, was expected to appear by video link but did not attend.
Mr Shand said: “The information passed from the prison is that he declined to make himself available and go to the room which the video link takes place.
“On previous occasions there have been differing accounts from Mr Knight and staff at the prison as to what went on or didn’t.”
Mr Shand told the court he would not comment any further, and that the hearing could take place in his client’s absence.
Rossi had applied for an electronic monitoring assessment, but this was declined by Sheriff McFadyen.
During the application for the assessment, as well as his treatment in prison, the court was also told of wheelchair user Rossi’s failing mental and physical health, with Mr Shand saying his client’s blood oxygen levels were below 90%.
But the psychiatric report, prepared by Psychology Direct, is still to be submitted.
Mr Shand told the court the firm passed on its apologies but it is in the final stages of being prepared. A deadline has been set for next week for it to be sent.
Prosecutor Colin Edward said there are now “very tight time-scales”, with just weeks left until Rossi’s full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on June 26.
Rossi has claimed to be the victim of mistaken identity and that he is an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight.
A sheriff ruled in November that he is Rossi.
It is alleged that Rossi faked his own death in 2020 and fled to the UK to evade prosecution for rape. He was arrested in December 2021 in Glasgow after becoming seriously unwell from Covid.
A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: “An allegation has been made and is currently under investigation. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further.
“We expect the highest standards of behaviour from all our staff, and where they fall short we have procedures in place to deal with this.
“All individuals in our care have the same right to legal representation and we have procedures in place to facilitate this.”