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Former Scotland leader on trial for sexual offences

This article is more than 12 months old

EDINBURGH: Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond's trial started yesterday.

He is 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.

He has denied the charges and said he will defend himself strongly at his trial, which is expected to last four weeks.

Salmond told reporters outside the court when he was charged in January last year: "I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever. I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality, and I will defend myself to the utmost in court."

The alleged attempted rape is said to have happened in June 2014 at the first minister's official Bute House residence in Edinburgh.

He is alleged to have pinned a woman against a wall and to have removed her clothes and his own, before pushing her onto a bed and lying naked on top of her, the BBC reported.

Among the charges was one that accused him of taking off a woman's shoe and trying to kiss her foot in October 2013.

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, 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 Ms 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. - AFP