HWANGE, Zimbabwe – The Zimbabwean professional hunter who led the expedition that killed Cecil the lion lost a legal bid on Tuesday, October 20, to have charges against him dropped.
Theo Bronkhorst is accused of “failing to prevent an illegal hunt” over the death of the lion that was killed by American trophy hunter Walter Palmer with a bow and arrow in July.
The hunt provoked worldwide outrage after it emerged that Cecil was a well-known attraction among visitors to the Hwange National Park and was wearing a tracking collar as part of an Oxford University research project.
“The offense is clearly disclosed in the charge sheet which also states that the accused is a holder of a professional hunter’s license,” magistrate Dambudzo Malunga said, dismissing Theo Bronkhorst’s application.
She adjourned the case until November 20 after also dismissing Bronkhorst’s application for it to be referred to the constitutional court.
“The accused will be accorded a fair trial,” she said. “The application for referral constitutional court is devoid of merit… it has only delayed the process of the court.”
Bronkhorst looked dejected and refused to speak to journalists when he came out of the courtroom in the western town of Hwange.
“We disagree with the ruling with all due respect. It is our intention to apply to the high court for a review,” his lawyer Perpetua Dube said.
Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, was hounded on social media over the killing and went into hiding after demonstrations outside his dental practice.
Zimbabwean authorities last week dropped plans to seek Palmer’s extradition to face charges, saying his papers were in order and that he was misled into believing that the hunt was legal. – Rappler.com