Cecil The Lion's Killers Walk Free: Zimbabwe Drops Charges Against Walter Palmer And Professional Hunter

Cecil The Lion’s Killers Walk Free: Zimbabwe Drops Charges Against Professional Hunter After Letting Dentist Walter Palmer Go Scot-Free

Cecil the lion’s killers won’t face any prosecution. A court in Zimbabwe, the country in which dentist Walter Palmer shot the majestic creature for sport, has thrown out all charges.

Despite drawing intense international criticism and persistent demands for penalizing American citizen Walter Palmer, and professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst for killing the famous lion, the court ruled that the charges against the professional hunter “were too vague to enable him to mount a proper defense,” reported BBC. Speaking about the decision, which might draw even harsher denunciation, Bronkhorst’s lawyer, Perpetua Dube, said the following.

“The offence did not have the force of the law, and was not criminal in nature. The high court has said the charges were flawed and, therefore, should be set aside. The charges did not constitute an offence. It’s a great relief for Mr. Bronkhorst.”

The court had slapped an additional charge of “failing to prevent an illegal hunt.” But this charge was “too vague,” argued the professional hunter’s lawyer.

“The court granted us that prayer that the charges be quashed. So I cannot imagine the state coming back again charging him with the same charge.”

Bronkhorst had been charged with failing to stop an illegal hunt. Shockingly, Walter Palmer was not even a part of the case. Though attempts were initially made to draw him in, charges against Palmer were officially dropped in October 2015.

Cecil was a beloved, black-maned lion living in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. The dentist had paid $55,000 to hunt the animal. On July 1, 2015, Cecil was shot and killed by Palmer using a bow on a farm outside the park, where the lion occasionally went to explore.

Incidentally, the bow Palmer shot did not immediately kill the lion. Palmer’s team, which included Bronkhorst, had to stay on the wounded tiger’s trial. Bronkhorst tracked the poor creature for 11 hours, before killing him.

After news about the death of the beloved lion made headlines, worldwide outrage followed. Cecil was not only a popular attraction for visitors to Hwange National Park, but that he wore a collar as part of an Oxford University research project, reported the Telegraph.

Initially, the Zimbabwean authorities maintained that Palmer possessed the legal authority to track and hunt the creature. The American citizen was aided by Bronkhorst. The professional hunter, often referred to as “PH” was entrusted with completing all the legal formalities which included getting permits and licenses.

In fact, Bronkhorst offered a complete package to his clients. He would arrange the trip, ensure all the creature comforts were extended to the clients, and even conduct the hunt in such manner that evoked excitement of the chase and the kill. Essentially, it was Bronkhorst’s job not only to ensure the hunt is conducted legally, but make sure his clientele had an exciting story of adventure to tell when they returned back to their respective countries.

Last year a magistrate’s court had ruled against Bronkhorst. The lower court opined that the professional hunter as well as Palmer should be tried over the 2015 hunt which led to the death of the lion. Meanwhile, the park officials initially insisted Bronkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, the owner of the farm where Cecil was shot, did not have a permit or quota to kill the lion, reported National Geographic. The farm-owner was also charged for allowing an illegal hunt to occur on his property. The man posted bail last year. So far the courts haven’t taken any decision in his case.

Labeling Walter Palmer as a “foreign poacher,” Zimbabwe initially attempted to extradite him following international criticism. However, the government never actually filed a formal extradition petition, claiming all the documentation for the hunt was in order. As for Bronkhorst, his lawyer successfully challenged the charge of “failing to prevent an illegal hunt.” Though the professional hunter had breached National Parks regulations, the lawyer convinced the court that his client’s actions never constituted a criminal offense.

[Featured Image by W L Davies/Getty Images]