The government of Zimbabwe has begun the process of requesting the extradition of American dentist Walter Palmer in connection with the alleged illegal hunting of a protected lion in a Zimbabwe national park.
ABC News reports:
In the Zimbabwean government’s first official comment on the killing of Cecil the lion, the environment, water and climate minister lashed out at Walter James Palmer, accusing him even of trying to hurt Zimbabwe’s image.
“Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin,” Oppah Muchinguri told a news conference. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable.”
On Tuesday, Palmer issued a statement saying he relied on his guides to ensure the hunt was legal. Two Zimbabweans — a professional hunter and a farm owner — have been arrested in the killing of the lion, an act which has garnered worldwide condemnation.
“There has been an outcry,” Muchinguri said. “Almost 500,000 people are calling for his extradition and we need this support. We want him tried in Zimbabwe because he violated our laws.”
“I have already consulted with the authorities within the police force who are responsible for arresting the criminal. We have certain processes we have to follow,” Muchinguri said at the offices of the national parks and wildlife authority. “Police should take the first step to approach the prosecutor general who will approach the Americans. The processes have already started.”
In related news, a petition launched by LGBT activist Scott Wooledge requesting the extradition of Palmer by the US government has garnered over 173,000 signatures in just 3 days. The White House has announced it will officially respond to the petition.