Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Monday said foreign vandals were responsible for the death of the country’s famous lion, Cecil.
Addressing thousands of people gathered to honor the country’s heroes at the national shrine, Mr. Mugabe said Zimbabweans had failed in their responsibility to protect Cecil, who was killed by American hunter Walter Palmer in an illegal hunt.
"Even Cecil the lion - he is yours. He's dead. But you have yours to protect and you failed to protect him,” said Mr. Mugabe.
“They are vandals who come from all over of course. Some may be just ordinary visitors, but (there are) others who want to vandalize, to irregularly and illegally acquire part of our resources."
The killing of the lion caused a worldwide outcry with over 200,000 Americans appealing to the White House to extradite professional hunter, Palmer, to Zimbabwe for killing the big cat. More than one million people have also signed a petition on Care2 Petitions website calling for justice for Cecil and an end of trophy hunting.
Some legal experts say it may take weeks, months or years for the United States to extradite Palmer to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s former attorney general, Sobusa Gula Ndebele, and former Education Minister, David Coltart, told Studio 7 recently that Palmer’s sought extradition will be a test case for an Extradition Treaty signed by the two nations in 1997.
Article One of the Treaty obligates the two countries to “extradite to the other, pursuant to the provisions of the Treaty, any person charged with or convicted of an extraditable offense in the requesting state."
Another provision of the Treaty also stipulates that it is designed to enhance the ability of the United States to prosecute serious offenders like narcotics traffickers and terrorists.
Article 4(1) of the Extradition Treaty stipulates generally that extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.