Monday 19 March 2018

Zimbabwe seeks US dentist's extradition over Cecil the lion killing

A woman moves a sign outside Dr Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minnesota (AP)
A woman moves a sign outside Dr Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minnesota (AP)

Extradition is being sought for the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, the country's wildlife minister has said.

Oppah Muchinguri, environment, water and climate minister, said that the government wanted him tried in Zimbabwe " because he violated our laws".

The minister added: "Police should take the first step to approach the prosecutor general who will approach the Americans. The processes have already started.

"Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin.

"We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable."

American hunter Walter James Palmer has previously issued a statement saying he relied on his guides to ensure the hunt was legal.

Two Zimbabweans - a professional hunter and a farm owner - have been arrested in the lion killing that garnered worldwide condemnation.

The government minister added: "There has been an outcry. Almost 500,000 people are calling for his extradition and we need this support."

Mr Muchinguri said both Mr Palmer and professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst violated the Parks and Wildlife Act, which controls the use of bow and arrow hunting.

He said Palmer, who reportedly paid 50,000 US dollars (£32,000) to hunt the lion, also violated the act through financing an illegal hunt.

The landowner violated the act because he "allowed a hunt to be conducted without a quota and necessary permit," Mr Muchinguri said.

He also accused Mr Palmer of "a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the US".

Mr Palmer is believed to have shot the lion with a bow on July 1 outside Hwange National Park after it was lured onto private land with a carcass of an animal laid out on a car.

Some 40 hours later, the wounded cat was tracked down and Mr Palmer allegedly killed it with a gun.

Mr Palmer, 55, is a dentist in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.

In a note to his patients, he wrote: "I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting." He added that he would resume his dental practice "as soon as possible".

Press Association

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