Theo Bronkhorst — accused to aiding Minnesota native Walter Palmer when he gunned down Cecil the lion during a July 2015 hunting trip — was cleared of charges, his lawyer announced Friday.
Despite international outcry about the killing of the rare black-maned lion, Palmer had legal authority to hunt outside Hwange National Park, Zimbabwean authorities said.
So instead, they slapped Bronkhorst, who guided Palmer on his trip, with charges of failing to prevent an unlawful hunt.
The local hunting trip leader’s lawyers petitioned the High Court in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo to set aside the charge, arguing it was it was not an illegal hunt because Palmer had the proper permit.
“The court granted us that prayer yesterday — that the charges be quashed,” said Lovemore Muvhiringi, a lawyer for Bronkhorst, adding that it’s unlikely that the state will re-file charges against the local hunter.
Palmer, traveling with Bronkhorst, took down Cecil last summer. The animal had been fitted with a collar to track his movements but strayed outside the confines of Hwange National Park and was then shot.
Bronkhorst was accused of setting bait to lure Cecil out of the park. Palmer said at the time that no one in his hunting party realized the targeted lion was Cecil, a beloved symbol of the park and the country.