Dove Magazine

Cecil the lion hunt leader due in court

The trial of Theo Bronkhorst, the professional Zimbabwean hunter who led the expedition that killed Cecil the lion, is due to start but his lawyers say they will attempt to have the case thrown out of court.

Zimbabwe

Theo Bronkhorst denies any wrongdoing and says he had obtained all the necessary permits to kill an elderly lion. Photograph: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images

Bronkhorst, 52, is charged with “failing to prevent an illegal hunt” in early July when Walter Palmer, an American dentist, paid $55,000 (£36,200) to shoot the lion with a bow and arrow.

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.

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

At the hearing on Monday, in the north-western town of Hwange, Bronkhurst’s lawyer, Givemore Muvhiringi, said: “We will apply for the case not to go for trial. The elements of the case don’t warrant a trial.”

The prosecutor, Namatirai Ngwasha, said: “On the state’s side, there are no changes to the case. We are ready for the trial on Monday.”

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-year-old male renowned for his distinctive black mane, and appeared to blame Bronkhorst for misleading him.

The US has yet to respond to Zimbabwe’s request for Palmer to be extradited to face charges.

Bronkhorst, who was granted $1,000 bail in the Cecil case, was rearrested this month on separate charges of planning to smuggle 29 sable antelopes – a rare and expensive breed – out of the country and into South Africa.

He was also bailed in that case, which will be heard separately. – the guardian-

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