A professional hunter who helped an American kill a popular lion named Cecil in an allegedly illegal hunt in Zimbabwe has said the case against him is “frivolous”.
Theo Bronkhorst appeared in a court in Hwange town, 435 miles south of Harare, where he faces charges of failing to prevent an unlawful hunt. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Givemore Muvhiringi, Mr Bronkhorst’s lawyer, asked for the trial to be postponed to 28 September so he can prepare the case. The prosecution did not object and magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa approved the postponement in a court session that lasted minutes.
“I think it’s frivolous and I think it’s wrong,” Mr Bronkhorst told journalists when asked about the charges against him. He said he believed he had not done anything illegal.
Hunting is “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”, he added.
Mr Bronkhorst assisted Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist and bow hunter who killed Cecil in early July. The case provoked international uproar and a Zimbabwean cabinet minister has said Mr Palmer should be extradited.
Police in southwest Florida said vandals spray-painted the words “lion killer” on the garage door of Mr Palmer’s $1.1m (£705,000) vacation home and left at least seven pickled pigs’ feet on the driveway.
Zimbabwe has also said a second American killed a lion in an illegal hunt in April. Dr Jan Seski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, said in a statement issued through his lawyer that his hunt was lawful and that he had the necessary permits required by Zimbabwe.
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