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Jurors retire in sex-crimes trial of former Scottish leader

by Karina Blackburn (2020-03-23)

LONDON (AP) - Jurors at the High Court in Edinburgh retired Friday to consider their verdicts in the trial for alleged sex crimes of Scotland's former first minister, Alex Salmond.

After Salmond's defense lawyer wrapped up by saying there was something "strange" about the allegations, Judge Leeona Dorrian told jurors they must decide whether the charges, which span a period between June 2008 and November 2014, have been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Salmond, 65, denies 13 alleged sexual offenses, including one of attempted rape, Pornzola.Com (C.Ompact.I.O.Np.D.Yu@Cenovis.The-M.Co.Kr) against nine women. The women either worked for the Scottish government or within Salmond's Scottish National Party at the time the offenses are alleged to have taken place.

The accusations range from Salmond stroking a civil servant's hair to trying to rape a former Scottish government official in the leader's official residence in Edinburgh.

The judge said three verdicts were available to the jurors - guilty, not guilty and not proven. The latter two are considered to be acquittals under Scottish law.

Verdicts can be returned unanimously or by a majority, with at least eight of the 15 jurors needing to agree.

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond leaving the High Court after the first day of his trial over accusations of sexual assault, in Edinburgh Monday March 9, 2020. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Earlier, Salmond's lawyer, Gordon Jackson, told the jury that the charges required a "very, very high standard of proof" and that there was something "strange" about the allegations turning from being inappropriate to criminal.

He said the case against Salmond "stinks."

Jackson conceded that Salmond "could have been a better man," but said that was irrelevant for the jury.

"This has gone far enough, gone on long enough, too long maybe, and it's time I say to you, quite bluntly, to bring this to an end," he 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%.

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)