Zimbabwe’s environment minister has called for Walter Palmer, the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion, to be extradited over the animal’s death.
Minister of Environment Oppah Muchinguri said Friday that she understood the country's prosecutor-general had started the process to extradite Palmer from the U.S.
At a news conference, Muchinguri described Palmer as a "foreign poacher" and said the "illegal killing was deliberate," Reuters reported.
"I have already consulted with the authorities within the police force who are responsible for arresting the criminal," Muchinguri said. "We have certain processes we have to follow. Police should take the first step to approach the prosecutor general who will approach the Americans. The processes have already started."
On Thursday, the White House said it would review a public petition calling for Palmer's extradition.
The petition has so far attracted more than 160,000 signatures.
"There has been an outcry," Muchinguri said. "We want him tried in Zimbabwe because he violated our laws."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the Justice Department will issue a response.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also said yesterday it had opened an inquiry into the lion's killing.
There have been numerous protests outside Palmer's dental practice in Minnesota this week as the authorities continue to search for Palmer.
The 55-year-old appears to have gone into hiding after he was named as the hunter who reportedly paid $50,000 (£32,000) to kill 13-year-old Cecil, one of Africa's most famous lions.
The animal was said to be a favorite at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. He was reportedly lured out of the park at the start of the month and shot with a crossbow before a group of hunters tracked him for 40 miles and killed him with a rifle.
Two other men, hunter Theo Bronkhorst and game park owner Honest Ndlovu, were arrested over Cecil's death.
Bronkhorst, pleaded not guilty to "failing to supervise, control and take reasonable steps to prevent an unlawful hunt" during a court appearance Wednesday, Reuters reported.
He was released on $1,000 bail and had to surrender his passport. Ndlovu will not be charged until he testifies.
Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.
Contact Richard James at email@example.com.
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