The High Court in Bulawayo has thrown out charges against the hunter, Theodor Albert Christian Bronkhorst, who allegedly assisted American dentist Walter Palmer to kill Zimbabwe’s most famous lion, Cecil. Bronkhorst was charged with facilitating the killing of the collared lion, which had a GPS tracker on its neck to be monitored by researchers at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Judge Justice Maxwell Takuva’s ruling follows an application for review of court proceedings at the lower court by Bronkhorst. His lawyer, Perpetua Dube, said the charges by the state have been set aside. There was no full trial but the [High Court] judge has decided that the charges – as they were brought at the time – were not properly constituted.
Palmer wounded the lion on 1 July last year (2015) with a bow and arrow. He only finished Cecil off with a gunshot after tracking the wounded lion for 11 hours. It is alleged the hunt happened after the lion was lured from a protected area, the Hwange National Park. It is further alleged Palmer paid about $50,000 to Bronkhorst and his associates for the illegal hunt.
Last year, Justice Martin Makonese blocked the Prosecutor-General’s Office from continuing with criminal proceedings against Bronkhorst. The American dentist who killed the famed lion, which attracted photographic safaris, was never charged.
Cecil’s killing sparked international outrage, and prompted a global campaign to end lion trophy hunting.