Parole denied for RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan for 17th time

Parole was approved in past, but overruled by California governor Gavin Newsom

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 02 March 2023 00:30 GMT
Robert F Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan denied parole in California

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A California panel on Wednesday declined to grant parole to Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F Kennedy.

The decision marks the 17th time the 78-year-old has petitioned for release from state prison.

Two years ago, a different California parole board voted to release the man, but was overruled by California governor Gavin Newsom in January of 2022.

“After decades in prison, he has failed to address the deficiencies that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy,” the governor said of his decision at the time. “Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past.”

Sirhan’s attorney Angela Berry says he has shown remorse and good behaviour and should be released.

“They found him suitable for release last time and nothing has changed,” she told the Associated Press. “He’s continued to show great behavior.”

At a press conference in September, Ms Berry shared a recording of Sirhan expressing his regret for the assassination.

“To transform this weight into something positive, I have dedicated my life to self-improvement, the mentoring of others in prison on how to live a peaceful life that revolves around nonviolence,” he said. “By doing this, I ensure that no other person is victimized by my actions again and hopefully make an impact on others to follow.”

The assassination of Kennedy came as the New York senator and brother of John F Kennedy had just won the pivotal California Democratic presidential primary.

The 1968 shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles wounded five others.

Sirhan Sirhan has had repeated parole requests turned down
Sirhan Sirhan has had repeated parole requests turned down (AP)

Members of the Kennedy family have previously expressed mixed opinions over whether Sirhan should be released.

Robert F Kennedy Jr and one of his siblings submitted letters to California officials arguing Sirhan should get parole.

“While nobody can speak definitively on behalf of my father, I firmly believe that based on his own consuming commitment to fairness and justice, that he would strongly encourage this board to release Mr. Sirhan because of Sirhan’s impressive record of rehabilitation,” Mr Kennedy, Jr, wrote.

Six other Kennedy siblings argued against release in 2021.

“Our father’s death is a very difficult matter for us to discuss publicly and for the past many decades we have declined to engage directly in the parole process,” they said in a statement at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times, writing that they were “shocked by a ruling” to parole “a confessed, first-degree murderer in the state of California.”

As with the 1963 assassination of JFK, the 1968 assassination of RFK has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories.

In a 1989 television interview, Sirhan, who is Palestinian, said he shot Kennedy because of the senator’s proposal to send war planes to Israel.

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