Sex-crimes trial of ex-leader Salmond begins in Scotland

International

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond arrives at the High Court for the first day of his trial, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Monday, March 9, 2020. Salmond, one of the country’s best-known politicians is on trial for a total of 14 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault against 10 women. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, one of Scotland’s best-known politicians, went on trial Monday accused of sex crimes including attempting to rape a woman at the leader’s official residence.

Salmond, 65, faces a total of 14 charges — one of attempted rape, 11 alleged sexual assaults and two alleged indecent assaults — against 10 women between 2008 and 2014.

He denies all the allegations. Salmond’s lawyer, Gordon Jackson, said he would make a defense of consent to several of the charges, and for another he would say he had an alibi.

Salmond stood between security guards in the dock at the High Court in Edinburgh at the start of the first day of the trial, which is expected to last four weeks.

Judge Leeona Dorrian told the jury of nine women and six men that they must decide the case on the evidence and not “allow yourselves to be swayed by sympathy or prejudice.”

The prosecution opened its case by calling a Scottish government official who alleges that Salmond attempted to rape her.

The woman said Salmond had groped her after a May 2014 dinner for supporters of Scottish independence at the first minister’s Bute House residence in Edinburgh, leaving her “embarrassed and humiliated.”

“I didn’t speak to anybody because I felt that I had done something wrong almost and I didn’t want people to know,” she said.

Salmond led the pro-independence Scottish National Party for 20 years and headed Scotland’s semi-autonomous government as its first minister from 2007 to 2014.

A major figure on the Scottish political stage for decades, he took Scotland to the verge of independence from the U.K. by holding a 2014 referendum on separation. He stepped down as leader after the “remain” side won the vote 55% to 45%.

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