Robert F. Kennedy’s killer parole turned down 54 years after murder

The governor of California refused to release Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan from prison more than half a century after the 1968 assassination, when one of America’s darkest times was deeply wounded.

Overlord Gavin Newsom, who has cited RFK as his “political hero” and embraced the historical significance of his decision, rejected the recommendation of a two-person panel of parole commissioners.

Mr Newsom said Sirhan, now 77, poses an unreasonable threat to public safety.

“The assassination of Senator Kennedy of Mr Sirhan is one of the most infamous crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in his ruling.

“After decades in prison, he has failed to address the shortcomings that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy.

“Mr Sirhan lacks insight that prevents him from making the same dangerous decisions he has made in the past.”

He included factors in his decision, including Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crime, his lack of insight and the accountability needed to support his safe release, his denial of violence committed in his name. failure and their failure to reduce their risk factors.

Sirhan will be scheduled for a new parole hearing after February 2023.

His defense attorney, Angela Berry, said Sirhan would ask a judge to overturn Mr Newsom’s denial.

“We sincerely hope that a judicial review of the governor’s decision will show that the governor has done it wrong,” she said.


Senator Robert F. Kennedy (PA)

State law states that prisoners be held on parole unless they pose an existing unreasonable public safety risk, adding that “evidence to suggest Sirhan is still a threat to society.” A quota of Rs.

She said the parole process had become politicized and that Mr Newsom had “chosen to dismiss his own experts (on the parole board) while ignoring the law”.

The parole commissioners found Sirhan suitable for release because of “his impressively extensive record of rehabilitation over the past half-century”, they said.

“Since the mid-1980s Mr Sirhan has been consistently found by prison psychologists and psychiatrists to not take an unreasonable risk of danger to the public.”

Mr Kennedy, the US senator from New York, was shot moments after claiming victory in California’s key Democratic presidential primary.

Five others were injured during the murder at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

In 1963 his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.

In August the parole panel’s recommendation to release Sirhan left the Kennedy family divided, with RFK’s two sons, Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., supporting his release.

But six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children and RFK’s wife, Ethel Kennedy, urged Newsom to block his parole.

The panel’s decision was based on several new California laws since he was denied parole in 2016, the 15th time he lost his bid for release.

The commissioners were required to consider that Sirhan had committed his crime at a young age of 24; that he is now old; And that Christian Palestinians who immigrated from Jordan had childhood trauma from conflict in the Middle East.


US President John F. Kennedy, who will also be assassinated, leaves Westminster Cathedral (Archive/PA)

In addition, Los Angeles County prosecutors did not object to his parole, following District Attorney George Gascon’s policy that prosecutors should not be involved in deciding whether prisoners are ready for release.

The decision had a personal element for Mr Newsom, a fellow Democrat, who displays RFK photographs in his official and home offices.

One of them is of Mr. Kennedy with Mr. Newsom’s late father.

Mr Newsom has previously considered the seriousness of taking Sirhan’s fate into his own hands, saying it was an emotional issue that was turbulent in the 1960s and reopened memories that many wish to forget.

Sirhan was originally sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty in 1972.

Ms Berry said she now has a heart condition and prostate cancer, Valley Fever and in 2019 her throat was slit by another inmate.

Munir Sirhan is said to have said that his elder brother could live with him if he was freed and not sent to Jordan.

Sirhan Sirhan waived his right to fight exile.

During the parole hearing, the white-haired Sirhan called Mr Kennedy “the hope of the world”.

But he didn’t hold back from taking full responsibility for a shoot, saying he didn’t remember because he was drunk.

“It pains me … to know for such a terrible deed, if I really did it,” said Mr Sirhan.