October 20, 2015 / 1:25 PM / in 2 years

Zimbabwe court says local Cecil hunter to face trial next month

HWANGE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court on Tuesday refused a hunter’s request to drop charges against him for failing to stop the killing of Cecil the lion by an American, who just days ago was cleared by the government.

Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst leaves court in Hwange, October 15, 2015. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst has denied any wrongdoing and says his family and business have been destroyed in the wake of the lion’s death, which triggered an international outcry.

The government last week said it would not charge Walter Palmer, the American dentist who used a bow and arrow to kill Cecil, a rare, black-manned lion outside Hwange National Park. It said Palmer’s hunting papers were in order, which angered conservationists.

A Hwange magistrate dismissed Bronkhorst’s application to have his indictment quashed, as well as his request to be allowed to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on whether his rights had been infringed upon.

His trial has been set for Nov. 20.

Prosecutors say they will call five witnesses, including the owner of the game park where Cecil was killed.

The park’s agency has said prosecutors also plan to present 13-year-old Cecil’s head in court as evidence.

Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia and Raissa Kasolowsky

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