Sacramento, Calif. ( Associated Press) — Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was denied parole on Thursday by California governor, who said the killer posed a danger to the public and that he had committed a crime. Haven’t taken changed American history.
Kennedy, a US senator from New York, was shot moments after claiming victory in California’s key Democratic presidential primary. Five others were injured during a shootout at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who has cited RFK as his political hero, rejected a recommendation by a two-person panel of parole commissioners that said Sirhan, 77, should be freed. The panel’s recommendation in August left the Kennedy family divided, with two of RFK’s sons – Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – supporting his release, and his siblings and mother strongly opposed.
In his decision, Newsom said the murder was “one of the most infamous crimes in American history,” adding that in addition to inflicting “immeasurable suffering” on Kennedy’s then pregnant wife and 10 children, Newsom said the murder also caused “great harm to the American people.” “
“It stalled the 1968 presidential election, leaving millions in the United States mourning the promise of his candidacy,” Newsom wrote. “Just nine weeks after the assassination of Mr. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and four and a half years after the assassination of Senator Kennedy’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, Sirhan assassinated Senator Kennedy during a dark season of political assassinations. Gave.
He said that Sirhan still lacks insight, refuses to take responsibility and has failed to dismiss the violence committed in his name. “This adds to its current risk of inciting further political violence,” Newsom wrote.
In 1973, terrorists took 10 hostages at an embassy in Sudan, demanded the release of Sirhan and other prisoners, and killed three diplomats when their demands were not met, he said.
Defense attorney Angela Berry said Sirhan, who will be scheduled for a new parole hearing after February 2023, will ask a judge to overturn 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.
State law states that prisoners must be placed on parole unless they pose an existing unreasonable public safety risk, he said, to suggest that Mr. Sirhan is still a threat to society. An iota of evidence does not exist.”
She said the parole process had become politicised, and Newsom chose to “dismiss her own experts (on the parole board) while ignoring the law.”
Berry said the parole commissioners found Sirhan suitable for release “due to his impressively extensive record of rehabilitation over the past half-century”. “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.”
During the parole hearing, the white-haired Sirhan called Kennedy “the hope of the world.” But he refused to take full responsibility for the shooting, saying he did not remember as he was drunk.
Sirhan said, “It pains me … to know for such a terrible deed, if I really did.”
Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, and their six children praised Newsom’s decision in a statement who called RFK a “visionary and champion of justice” whose life was “cut by an angry man with a small gun.”
He wrote, “The political passion that inspired this prisoner’s act still boils today, and his refusal to accept the truth makes it impossible to conclude that he overcame the evil that boiled over 53 years ago.” is,” he wrote.
The panel’s decision was based on several new California laws since he was denied parole in 2016 – the 15th time he has 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.
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 Newsom, a fellow Democrat, who displays RFK photographs in his official and home offices. One of them is that of Kennedy with Newsom’s late father.
Sirhan was originally sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly stayed the death penalty in 1972.