American dentist Walter Palmer, who sparked an international outcry after killing Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, will not be prosecuted because he had obtained the legal authority to hunt, officials say.
Walter Palmer, 55, admitted to killing Cecil in July but has always denied that he acted illegally.
Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri said Walter Palmer could not be charged as all his “papers were in order”.
Oppah Muchinguri said Zimbabwe would now review how it issues hunting licenses.
The environment minister had previously called for Walter Palmer to be extradited and face prosecution. However, it appears that Walter Palmer broke no laws when he killed the lion using a bow and arrow.
“We approached the police and then the Prosecutor General, and it turned out that [Walter] Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” Oppah Muchinguru said.
Meanwhile the trial against Walter Palmer’s Zimbabwean guide, Theo Bronkhurst, is due to continue on October 15.
Theo Bronkhurst denies the charge of “failing to prevent an illegal hunt”.
After his name was revealed by the press, Walter Palmer’s dentistry practice and home were targeted by protesters. He has now returned to work after a two-month break.
Walter Palmer is believed to have paid $50,000 to hunt the lion in Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve.
Honest Ndlovu, the game park operator accused of letting American dentist Walter Palmer illegally hunt and kill Cecil the lion on his property in Zimbabwe, has been charged in connection with the killing and released on bail in Hwange, his lawyer said.
The killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old, rare, black-maned lion and a popular tourist attraction, caused worldwide outrage and triggered a major backlash against Africa’s multi-million dollar hunting industry.
Honest Ndlovu owns the game park into which Cecil was lured from the adjacent Hwange National Park and shot with a bow and arrow by Walter Palmer.
He was charged with permitting “a person who is not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe to hunt the said animal which was not on the hunting quota”.
Lawyer Tonderai Mukuku said Honest Ndlovu denies the charge and was set free on $200 bail. He will return to court on September 18.
The same Hwange court last week postponed until September 28 the trial of local hunter Theo Bronkhorst.
Theo Bronkhorst, who acted as Walter Palmer’s guide, is accused of failing to prevent the American from killing Cecil, who had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study.
Cecil the lion was a favorite with tourists visiting Hwange park.
Zimbabwe wants Walter Palmer, 55, extradited from the US to face trial.
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