CECIL KILLER EXTRADITION : GOVT BACKS DOWN

Government has backed down on its plans to have American hunter Walter Palmer extradited for allegedly killing Cecil the Lion amid fears that the United States of America government was likely to shoot down the request.
Palmer has returned to work

It has been a month since Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri announced that the police would process paperwork to extradite Palmer for participating in a hunt that authorities here said was illegal.

But yesterday, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) said it had not yet seen any application from the police to have Palmer brought to Zimbabwe to answer charges of killing the country’s most treasured lion in Hwange National Park in July this year.

NPA spokesperson, Allen Chifokoyo said his office had not yet received any application from the police to kickstart the extradition process hinting that “in a normal situation by now that would have happened”.

“We are yet to receive any application from the police. Maybe they are still investigating, but we are the people who should process the extradition papers after being instructed to do so by the police,” Chifokoyo said.

National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba also professed ignorance over the matter.

Government sources said the frosty relations between Harare and Washington and fear of losing tourism business from Western markets might have forced the government to shelve the matter. According to information from government authorities, hunting supports about 800 000 rural Zimbabwean families.

Cecil had become a major tourist attraction at Hwange National Park and had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of Oxford University’s lion research.

Theo Bronkhorst, a local professional hunter who helped Palmer kill the lion, has been charged with “failure to prevent an illegal hunt”.

Honest Ndlovu, whose property is near Hwange National Park, faces a charge of allowing the lion hunt to occur on his farm without proper authority. According to police, Palmer allegedly lured Cecil out of Hwange with an animal carcass and later shot him with a bow and arrow.

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