Zimbabwean behind Cecil hunt due back in court

The trial of professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who led the expedition that killed Cecil the lion, is due to start Monday but his lawyers say they will attempt to have the case thrown out of court.

Bronkhorst, 52, is charged with "failing to prevent an illegal hunt" in early July when American dentist Walter Palmer paid $55,000 (50,000 euros) to shoot the lion with a bow and arrow.

The hunt provoked worldwide outrage after it emerged that Cecil was a well-known attraction among visitors to the Hwange National Park and was wearing a tracking collar as part of an Oxford University research project.

Bronkhorst denies any wrongdoing, saying he is innocent of all charges and had obtained all the permits required to kill an elderly lion that was outside the national park boundaries.

His lawyer Givemore Muvhiringi said that at the hearing in the northwestern town of Hwange on Monday, "we will apply for the case not to go for trial. The elements of the case don`t warrant a trial."

Prosecutor Namatirai Ngwasha said that "on the state`s side, there are no changes to the case. We are ready for the trial on Monday."

Palmer, an experienced trophy hunter, was hounded on social media over the killing, and went into hiding after demonstrations outside his dental practice.

He apologised for killing Cecil, a 13-year-old male renowned for his distinctive black mane, and appeared to blame Bronkhorst for misleading him.

The United States has yet to respond to Zimbabwe`s request for Palmer to be extradited to face charges.

Bronkhorst, who was granted $1,000 bail in the Cecil case, was rearrested this month on separate charges of planning to smuggle 29 sable antelopes -- a rare and expensive breed -- out of the country and into South Africa.

He was also bailed in that case, which will be heard separately.
 

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