Professional hunter who helped kill Cecil the lion calls criminal case 'frivolous'

Theo Bronkhorst appeared in court in Zimbabwe as his lawyers convinced a judge to delay his trial for failing to prevent an illegal hunt

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The Independent Online

A professional hunter who has been charged in connection with the shooting of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has said the case against him is “frivolous”.

Theo Bronkhorst appeared in court on Wednesday charged with failing to prevent an illegal hunt.

If convicted he faces a fine and up to 15 years in prison.

His lawyers successfully convinced the judge to postpone his trial till 28th September to give them more time to prepare evidence.

Cecil the Lion, before he was killed by American hunter Walter Palmer (AP)

Mr Bronkhorst denies any wrongdoing in the incident last month which saw a 13-year-old “celebrity” lion shot with a bow and arrow by an American dentist, Walter Palmer, after it was lured from its wildlife park.

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, he said the case was "frivolous and wrong" and that hunt was integral to Zimbabwe’s economy and culture.

He said hunting was: “an integral part of our country and it's got to continue and if we do not use wildlife sustainably, there will be no wildlife". 

The killing of Cecil provoked an international outcry with protesters staging a demonstration outside the offices of Dr Palmer’s dental surgery in Minnesota and defacing the company’s website.

According to police in southwest Florida, vandals have defaced the holiday home of the dentist was the words “lion killer” daubed on the walls.

Marco Island policeman, Captain David Baer, said there had also been at least seven pickled pig’s feet left in the driveway.

Zimbabwean officials have called for Dr Palmer extradition to face charges over the hunt.

The White House has said will respond to a petition to send Dr Palmer back to Zimbabwe to face charges after it was signed by more than 160,000 people.

Dr Palmer has said he believed the hunt, which he paid a rumoured $55,000 to take part in, was legal.

Additional reporting by agencies