Ce­cil hunter wants case dropped

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

HWANGE — Lawyers for pro­fes­sional Zim­bab­wean hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who led the ex­pe­di­tion that killed Ce­cil the lion, on Mon­day ap­plied to have the case against him thrown out of court. 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.

Re­gional mag­is­trate Dam­budzo Malunga ac­cepted the court ap­pli­ca­tion and re­manded the case un­til Oc­to­ber 15 when she said she would de­ter­mine if Bronkhorst’s trial should go ahead.

“The charge is not clear and the cir­cum­stances do not con­sti­tute a charge­able of­fence,” Bron­ck­horst’s lawyer Per­petua Dube told the court in Hwange, where his trial was due to start on Mon­day.

Bronkhorst, 52, has been charged with “fail­ing to pre­vent an illegal hunt” when Amer­i­can den­tist Wal­ter Palmer paid $55 000 to shoot the lion with a bow and arrow in early July.

Bronkhorst de­nies any wrong­do­ing, say­ing he had ob­tained all the per­mits re­quired to kill an el­derly lion that was out­side the na­tional park bound­aries.

He ar­rived at the Hwange court on Mon­day wear­ing khaki trousers, a striped khaki shirt and a grey cap. He de­clined to speak to re­porters. Pros­e­cu­tor Na­mati­rai Ng­washa said “we need time to re­search and make an in­formed re­sponse to the de­fence’s ap­pli­ca­tion”.

Palmer, an ex­pe­ri­enced tro­phy hunter, was hounded on so­cial media over the killing, and went into hid­ing af­ter demon­stra­tions out­side his den­tal prac­tice.

He apol­o­gised for killing Ce­cil, a 13-yearold male renowned for his dis­tinc­tive black mane, and ap­peared to blame Bronkhorst for mis­lead­ing him.

Bronkhorst, who was granted $1 000 bail in the Ce­cil case, was also ar­rested this month on sep­a­rate charges of plan­ning to smug­gle 29 sable an­telopes — a rare and ex­pen­sive breed - into South Africa. — Reuters

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