Zimbabwe court again postpones trial of hunter linked to killing of Cecil the Lion

A court postponed for the second time the trial of hunter Theo Bronkhorst until Oct 15.
A court postponed for the second time the trial of hunter Theo Bronkhorst until Oct 15.PHOTO: AFP

HARARE (Reuters) - A court on Monday (Sept 28) postponed for the second time the trial of hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who is linked to the illegal killing of Zimbabwe's most prized lion in July, after his lawyers requested that his indictment be quashed.

Bronkhorst is accused of failing to stop American dentist Walter Palmer from killing Cecil, a familiar sight at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. The incident triggered a global wave of anger on social media and controversy over big-game hunting.

The case has been put off until Oct 15.

Defence lawyer Perpetua Dube told Reuters she had asked the court in Hwange in western Zimbabwe to quash the indictment against Bronkhorst, arguing the facts presented by prosecutors did not disclose an offence by him.

Dube said she also wanted the Constitutional Court to rule on whether Bronkhorst's constitutional rights had been breached.

Prosecutors will respond to the two applications by the defence on Oct. 15.

Bronkhorst, who denies the charges, faces a US$20,000 fine and up to 10 years' jail if convicted.

Prosecutors will call five witnesses, including the owner of the game park where Cecil was killed.

Dr Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, has said the hunt was legal and no one in the hunting party realised the targeted trophy kill was the black-maned Cecil.

Zimbabwe's Environment Minister said in July the country was seeking Dr Palmer's extradition as a "foreign poacher".

Dr Palmer would have to be charged before he could be extradited and Zimbabwe has not done this.