Zimbabwe court postpones trial of Cecil the lion's accused

  • World
  • Thursday, 06 Aug 2015

Protesters hold signs during a rally outside the River Bluff Dental clinic against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Miller

HWANGE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday postponed until Sept. 28 the trial of a local hunter accused of failing to stop American dentist Walter Palmer illegally killing the country's most prized lion last month.

Theo Bronkhorst was arrested last week and charged with breaching hunting rules when he helped Palmer lure Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, out of Hwange National Park and shoot him with a bow and arrow, in a case that caused international outrage and put the spotlight on big game hunting in Africa.

Bronkhorst has yet to plead in court but has publicly denied any wrongdoing. He appeared for the short hearing in Hwange, western Zimbabwe, where his lawyer requested the adjournment.

Givemore Muvhiringi said another attorney who was meant to argue the case was unavailable and that the defence needed more time to prepare for the trial.

If convicted, Bronkhorst faces a fine of $20,000 (£12,824) and up to 10 years in jail.

A local game park owner Headman Sibanda also appeared before a different magistrate in the same Hwange court charged with "permitting an illegal hunt" of a lion in April by another American hunter, Jan Seski, a doctor from Pennsylvania.

Sibanda was not asked to plead and was set free on $300 bail. He will make a routine appearance in court on September 3.

Zimbabwe has called for the extradition of Palmer to face trial for poaching. In reaction to the Cecil furore, three U.S. airlines have banned the transport of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo remains killed by trophy hunters.

(Reporting by Philimon Bulawayo; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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