Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, allegedly bribed park officials with $55,000 to hunt down and kill Cecil the Lion at Hwange National Park. Cecil was found beheaded and skinned on the outskirts of the Hwange national park, authorities said. The hunt occurred around July 6.
“They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil,” Johnny Rodrigues, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Guardian. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park.”
Rodrigues said Palmer first shot Cecil with a crossbow, but it did not kill him. They then “tracked him down and found him 40 hours later” and shot him with a rifle, Rodrigues said.
The lion’s head has not been found.
But what can Walter Palmer be charged with and does the U.S. have an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe?
The charity Lion Aid says on its website that it will be difficult to prosecute the person who paid for the hunt, because the client did what the professional hunter tells him to do.
“A client usually has no idea about the laws and regulations of the country he is hunting in – he just buys a safari and then places himself in the hands of his professional hunter guide. Finding the client could be interesting to let him tell his side of the story, but in terms of legal prosecution this person is hardly important,” Lion Aid says. Theo Bronkhorst, who runs the hunting company that Palmer hired, is already being investigated in Zimbabwe.
However, if it can be proven that Palmer did indeed bribe the park officials with a large sum of cash, he may be able to be charged in the United States under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has two parts, one that addresses accounting transparency requirements and another that addresses bribery of foreign officials. The second part could be used to charge Palmer, specifically under the Alternative Jurisdiction section:
It shall also be unlawful for any United States person to corruptly do any act outside the United States in furtherance of an offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of the payment of any money, or offer, gift, promise to give, or authorization of the giving of anything of value to any of the persons or entities set forth…
(A) (i) influencing any act or decision of such foreign official in his official capacity, (ii) inducing such foreign official to do or omit to do any act in violation of the lawful duty of such official, or (iii) securing any improper advantage…
As for if the United States has an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe, it has been in place since 1997.
Read more about Walter Palmer in Spanish at our sister site, AhoraMismo.com: