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Global Group Signs Petition to Block Execution of Poacher Killer

The carcass of an elephant which was killed after drinking poisoned water, lies near a water hole in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, about 840 km (522 miles) east of Harare, September 27, 2013. Zimbabwean ivory poachers have killed more than 80 elephants
A global web movement calling itself Avaaz on Tuesday launched a campaign calling on Harare to spare the life of a Zimbabwean ranger accused of murdering a suspected poacher in Gokwe from going to the gallows.

The American-based group urged its more than 20 million members worldwide to sign a petition calling on Harare to spare an employee of the National Parks and Wildlife, Maxwell Bowa, from hanging.

Bowa was convicted on Monday by Bulawayo High Court Lawrence Kamocha of intentionally killing a suspected poacher Lenna Nkosana in Gokwe last year.

The Avaaz petition, a copy of which was obtained by VOA Studio 7, was posted online Tuesday and at the time of going on air, more than 1,500 people had signed the petition which is expected to be handed to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

"The fact that a senior ranger from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority currently engaged in a losing battle in the poaching war has been sentenced to be hanged smacks of possible deeper, sinister motives at play in Zimbabwe's judicial system," said Avaaz in the petition.

The global movement called on Harare to show that it is serious about winning the war against poaching currently raging against Africa's priceless and endangered wildlife heritage.

The Avaaz petition comes at a time when at least 81 elephants were poisoned to death by poachers who were looking for their tusks to sell in lucrative Asian markets.

However, Harare resident Gamuchirai Masiyiwa said Bowa deserves to be hanged after he brutally killed an un-armed civilian whom he shot 10 times.

But another Harare resident, Jeffrey Moyo, said the sentence given to Bowa was too harsh and violates his rights as enshrined in the new constitution which recognizes the right to life.

Zimbabwe last conducted executions in 2005 when serial armed robbers and convicted murderers, Stephen Chidhumo and Edgar Masendeke, were hanged.

An international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, is calling on Harare to abolish the death penalty which, in terms of the new constitution, now applies to men only.