Former Scotland leader in court on sex charges

Edinburgh (AFP) –


Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond was due to go on trial Monday accused of a string of sexual offences, including an attempted rape at his official residence in 2014.

The 65-year-old is facing two counts of indecent assault, 10 of sexual assault, an attempted rape and a sexual assault with intent to rape, according to the indictment.

The case, before a 15-member jury and judge Leeona Dorrian, will be heard at the High Court in Edinburgh and has been scheduled to last four weeks.

Salmond told reporters outside the court when he was charged in January 2019: "I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever.

"I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court."

Salmond, who is married and a former economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland, took over the leadership of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1990.

He became first minister of the devolved government in Edinburgh in 2007 and led the unsuccessful SNP campaign for Scottish independence at a referendum in 2014.

He left office at the end of that year and was replaced by Nicola Sturgeon, who has revived calls for a new referendum after Britain's departure from the European Union.

Salmond has since been employed as a talk show host by Russia Today.