Walter Palmer, the American dentist responsible for the killing of Zimbabwe’s much-loved lion, Cecil, is facing calls for his extradition from the US to face criminal charges for the illegal hunt and the lion’s death.
The Guardian reports that Zimbabwe’s minister for environment, water and climate, Oppah Muchinguri, announced the call for Palmer’s extradition in a press conference this morning. Muchinguri said Zimbabwe’s prosecutor general had begun the process of having Palmer extradited.
According to Muchinguri, Palmer had left the country for the US before Zimbabwean authorities could apprehend him.
“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” said Muchinguri, as quoted in the Portland Press Herald.
Meanwhile, a petition to the White House supporting the call for Palmer’s extradition has reached the threshold for a response from the US government. To receive a response, the petition needed 100,000 signatures by August 27. On Friday morning (July 31), the petition had over 162,000 signatures, urging US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to cooperate with Zimbabwean authorities and promptly extradite Palmer.
Despite the tense US-Zimbabwe relationship, the two countries have an 18-year bilateral extradition treaty (pdf) in place, obliging both countries to extradite offenders charged with an offense in the requesting state.
Reuters reports that, according to Zimbabwean law, the illegal killing of a lion is an offense punishable by a fine of $20,000 and up to 10 years in jail.