Zimbabwe Abandons Extradition Bid for Cecil the Lion’s Killer
THE Zimbabwe government has called off its request for the extradition of Walter Palmer, the U.S. dentist who shot and killed Cecil the Lion.
Palmer’s documentation for a visit to Zimbabwe earlier this year was in order, Water, Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters in Harare.
“He is free to come, not for hunting, but as a tourist,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
Cecil, 13, was killed in July outside Hwange National Park, where he was a star attraction among tourists.
In July Muchinguri had said Palmer should be extradited for the “illegal” killing of Cecil the lion.
Muchinguri described Palmer as a “foreign poacher” who financed an illegal hunt.
She said she understood the Prosecutor-General had started the process to have him extradited from the US.
“The illegal killing was deliberate,” Muchinguri told a news conference.
“We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action.”
The US has an extradition agreement with Zimbabwe, so in theory he could be sent there to face the legal system if charges are filed.
Mr Palmer, from Minnesota, has said in a statement that he regretted the killing, but added that he had relied on his guides to ensure the hunt was legal.
He allegedly paid park guides US$50 000 to kill the lion, who was a hugely popular attraction at the Hwange National Park.
Cecil was lured from a national park and shot with a bow and arrow, before being tracked for 40 hours and then shot with a rifle, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
The 13-year-old predator, who had a collar as he was being studied by Oxford University researchers, was then skinned and decapitated.
The killing caused a global uproar, and the 55-year-old Palmer, who reportedly received death threats, went into hiding and had to temporarily close his dental practice in suburban Minneapolis. -Bloomberg/Staff Writer