A professional hunter who helped an American kill a popular lion named Cecil in an allegedly illegal hunt in Zimbabwe said Wednesday that the case against him is "frivolous."
Wearing sunglasses and a camouflage cap and jacket, Theo Bronkhorst appeared in a court in Hwange town, where he faces charges of failing to prevent an unlawful hunt. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Givemore Muvhiringi, Bronkhorst's lawyer, asked for the trial to be postponed to Sept. 28 so he can prepare the case. The prosecution did not object and Magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa approved the postponement in a court session that lasted only a few minutes.
"I think it's frivolous and I think it's wrong," Bronkhorst told journalists when asked about the charges against him. He said he believed he had not done anything illegal.
Bronkhorst said hunting is "an integral part of our country and it's got to continue and if we do not use wildlife sustainably, there will be no wildlife."
Bronkhorst assisted Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist and bow hunter who killed Cecil in early July. Zimbabwean officials say the killing of the lion was not approved and a Cabinet minister says Palmer should be extradited.
Palmer has said he relied on his professional guides to ensure the hunt was legal.
Zimbabwe has also said a second American killed a lion in an illegal hunt in April. The American, Dr. Jan Seski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, said in a statement issued through his lawyer that the hunt was lawful and that he had the necessary permits required by Zimbabwean authorities.