Trial of guide in killing of Cecil the lion postponed to Sept. 28

The trial in Zimbabwe of a professional hunter who helped an American kill a popular lion named Cecil in an allegedly illegal hunt in Zimbabwe was postponed Wednesday to Sept. 28.

Wearing 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 postponement 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.

"My client is not guilty," Muvhiringi said outside the courthouse. "The hunt was legal and that is the position we are going to defend when the trial opens."

Bronkhorst assisted Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist 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.