Fugitive Doctor Fights Extradition to US to Face Murder Charges in Wife's Death

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - A doctor facing extradition on charges of fatally poisoning his wife in Ohio has filed an appeal for his release.

The petition - effectively seeking to obstruct Yazeed Essa's handover to U.S. authorities - was filed Thursday at the island's Supreme Court, defense attorney Soteris Argyrou said.

He declined to discuss the details because the appeal is ongoing.

A court in Cyprus last month approved a U.S. request to extradite Essa, 38, an emergency room doctor accused in the cyanide poisoning of his wife.

Rosemarie Essa, 38, collapsed in her car and died on Feb. 24, 2005, about five miles from their home in the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills.

Essa disappeared before he was indicted on aggravated murder charges in Cuyahoga County but was arrested last October in Cyprus as he attempted to clear customs after arriving from Lebanon.

The charge carries a term of life in prison without parole for 20 years. His defense fought extradition, arguing Essa could still face a death sentence if extradited because prosecutors could amend the indictment.

Under Cypriot law, extradition is banned for suspects who face the death penalty.

In its June 29 decision allowing extradition, the court said expert testimony presented by the defense was "supposition and conjecture."

The first hearing is scheduled for July 27 before a Supreme Court judge.

Essa disappeared in March 2005, leaving behind the couple's two children, then age 4 and 2. The children are living with Rosemarie Essa's brother.