Sirhan Sirhan: Kennedy killer fails at 16 parole

Incarcerated for 53 years
Despite support: Robert Kennedy’s killer Sirhan Sirhan fails with 16th parole application

In prison since 1968 for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy: Sirhan Sirhan, here in San Diego before a parole hearing

© California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/AP/DPA

Sirhan Sirhan, imprisoned for more than 50 years for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy, is not released. Although a committee recommended the 77-year-old’s release, California’s governor wants him to remain in prison.

Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the assassin of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy, may spend the rest of his life in prison. California Governor Gavin Newsom refused on Thursday (local time) the release of the 77-year-old, who has been imprisoned for 53 years. Sirhan is still a “threat to public safety” and, despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, “refuses to accept responsibility for this crime,” Newsom said.

Sirhan Sirhan was arrested at the scene with a gun in 1968. In 1969, a court found him guilty of shooting the Democratic presidential candidate and New York Senator Kennedy, brother of the assassinated US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was sentenced to death, but after California abolished the death penalty in 1972, his sentence, like 107 other inmates on death row, was commuted to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

Last August, a parole board in California voted for Sirhan’s release after he had previously failed with 15 clemency appeals. In a virtual hearing, Sirhan – who has claimed for years that he was drunk and had no memory of shooting Kennedy – had nonetheless expressed remorse, saying he had changed his life during the decades he spent in several California prisons. dedicated to peace as reported by the “Los Angeles Times”.. “Senator Kennedy was the hope of the world and I hurt them all – and it pains me to know that, the knowledge of such a horrific act when I actually did it,” he said. “I’m still responsible for being there and probably causing this whole incident, by my own gun or other guns.”

Two Kennedy sons support Sirhan Sirhan’s release

The commission’s recommendation had been submitted to the California governor, who has now rejected it. “Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is among the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom said. “After decades in prison, he still hasn’t fixed the mistakes that led to his assassination of Senator Kennedy.” Sirhan lacks the “necessary clarity to prevent him from making the same dangerous decisions as in the past”. The governor described the prisoner as a “powerful symbol of political violence”.

Ethel Kennedy, 93, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, and six of their 11 children said they were “deeply relieved” by Newsom’s decision in a joint statement Thursday. Kennedy was a “visionary and advocate of justice” who fought for progress and hope and sought to transcend the divisions that riddled the nation, they said. “All of this was ended by an angry man with a small pistol. The murderer’s act of violence, fueled by malevolence and resentment, went against the values ​​of openness, dialogue and democratic change espoused by Robert Kennedy and which underlie our political system. “

Two Kennedy sons, on the other hand, spoke out in favor of Sirhan’s release. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Douglas Kennedy told the parole board that inmates should be released when they no longer pose a threat to themselves or others. He once lived in fear of Sirhan, but now sees him “as a person who deserves compassion and love”.

Robert F Kennedy Jr. wrote in a letter to the panel in August that he believed his father recognized Sirhan’s impressive rehabilitation. Kennedy Jr. said he was “disappointed” with Newsom’s move. now to the newspaper. “I think the decision was wrong on the merits and goes against everything my father believed in. My father believed in criminal justice reform. He was Catholic […] and believed in forgiveness and redemption.”

Kennedy Jr. also shares the view that a second gunman committed the assassination, in which five people standing behind Kennedy were also injured. Among other things, the investigation found multiple bullet holes in the ceiling and door frames, a possible indication that more than eight shots – the capacity of Sirhan’s gun – were fired.

Sirhan, a Jerusalem-born Christian Palestinian, shot Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 – just hours after the 42-year-old won the California primary to nominate the Democratic presidential nominee. According to the US judiciary, the motive of the then 24-year-old perpetrator was Kennedy’s support for Israel. Kennedy’s brother, US President John F. Kennedy, had been shot dead five years earlier in Dallas, Texas.

Sources: “Los Angeles Times”, “Washington Post”,

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