Sunday 23 October 2016

US dentist who killed Cecil the lion returns to work

Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30

Frosty reception: Walter Palmer is surrounded by protesters and media at his dental clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday. Palmer shut his practice in July after he was identified as the hunter who killed Cecil the lion
Frosty reception: Walter Palmer is surrounded by protesters and media at his dental clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday. Palmer shut his practice in July after he was identified as the hunter who killed Cecil the lion

The Minnesota dentist who killed Zimbabwean lion Cecil, sparking a global outcry from animal lovers, returned to work on Tuesday to shouts of "murderer" and "leave town" from a half dozen protesters, but support from some patients at his suburban Minneapolis office.

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Walter Palmer, 55, did not speak to reporters as he entered his Bloomington, Minnesota, dental practice. He shut the practice in late July amid a firestorm of protests after he was publicly identified as the hunter who killed the rare black-maned lion weeks before.

The death of Cecil, a familiar sight at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, triggered threats on social media, stoked controversy over big-game hunting and prompted three US airlines to ban transport of African big game killed by trophy hunters.

Zimbabwe's environment minister said in July the country was seeking Palmer's extradition as a "foreign poacher". But Palmer would have to be charged before he could be extradited and Zimbabwe has not done this.

The River Bluff Dental practice reopened in mid-August without Palmer, who said on Sunday in a joint interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Press that he needed to resume his duties.

Veronique Lamb, a 49-year-old tourist from Brussels, was among a handful of protesters waiting for him on Tuesday. She said she was there to protest the dentist returning to work "like nothing happened".

"He did something really bad and he really knows it," Lamb said. "Hopefully this has opened the eyes of people to this horrible business. It's very sad." Palmer was also greeted with support.

A patient of his, Ryan Rice, said: "I have no problem with him taking a lion or giraffe, that's his own business - I do have a problem with social media and how people have tried to slander this individual."

In the interview on Sunday, Palmer reiterated a statement he had made in July: that the hunt was legal and no one in the hunting party realised the targeted trophy kill was the well-known 13-year-old lion.

Meanwhile, a Hungarian TV station that employed a camerawoman who kicked and tripped migrants fleeing from police this week was offline on Friday, with its website blaming hackers for the outage.

Earlier, Petra Laszlo, who has been questioned by police on suspicion of disorderly conduct for kicking and tripping up refugees at a camp in southern Hungary, had written an open letter expressing regret for her "panic"-driven behaviour.

In a post on its Facebook page, N1TV, also known as Nemzeti (National) TV, said hackers from a Turkish internet address had wiped its entire website, including the station's archive and correspondence.

The camerawoman was fired on Tuesday from the right-wing news station after videos of her actions spread in the media and on the internet.

The station's web page was blank except for a logo and a message in Hungarian and English on Friday afternoon.

Separate videos show her kicking a girl and tripping up a man carrying a child as hundreds of migrants, many of them Syrian refugees, break away from police on Hungary's southern border with Serbia.

"I honestly regret what happened. . . I am practically in shock from what I did, and what was done to me," Laszlo wrote in a letter posted on, the website of the newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

She said she had panicked when hundreds of migrants started running towards her, and had wanted to protect herself. "I am not a heartless, racist camerawoman who would kick children. . . I am a woman, a mother of small children, who has since lost her job, and who made a bad decision in a panic," she added.

Hungary's right-wing government has taken a hard line on the flow of migrants across its borders en route to western Europe, describing them as a threat to Europe's prosperity and Christian values.

Elsewhere, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney met the jailed former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who was convicted of terrorism in a case that has drawn international criticism, a day before a key High Court hearing.

Nasheed, the Maldives' first democratically-elected leader, was ousted in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge. He is a serving a 13-year jail term after a rapid trial in March. The United Nations, the United States, and human rights groups have said President Abdullah Yameen's government failed to follow due process and that the case against Nasheed was politically motivated.

Clooney, who is married to actor George Clooney, travelled to a prison on Maafushi Island where Nasheed was taken on August 23 from house arrest. She was checked by two prison officials before the 90-minute discussion with Nasheed.

"Well, President Nasheed is in remarkably good spirits," Clooney said soon after the meeting. "He wanted me to convey to the people of the Maldives that they should remain hopeful that things will improve and that he is pleased I will be attending meetings with him on behalf of the government."

China has begun developing a new stealth attack helicopter which should be ready by about 2020, the official China Daily newspaper said on Friday.

The helicopter is being developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), and its stealth capabilities will "reshape the combat patterns" of the People's Liberation Army, said company chairman Lin Zuoming. "It is a trend that the ground force will become increasingly dependent on helicopters because they have better strike capability and mobility than armoured vehicles, and transport supplies to frontier troops," Lin said.

Chief helicopter designer, Wu Ximing, said the aircraft would have "supreme manoeuvrability in complicated environments, outstanding survivability and joint operation ability".

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