A two-man advisory panel from California prison authorities backed the parole of 77-year-old Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of the murder of US senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. Sirhan Sirhan has already spent 53 years in prison.
The decision was made at the 16th consecutive hearing on this matter. Kennedy’s two sons also supported her, and the prosecution did not object to Sirhan’s release from prison.
According to Douglas Kennedy, who was a small child when his father was shot in 1968, a killer should be released if he does not pose a threat to others. “I’m thrilled to see Mr. Sirhan face to face.” (…) In one way or another I lived in fear of him. I am grateful that today I can see him as a man worthy of compassion and love – he assured.
Murder of Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy, a New York senator and brother to President John F. Kennedy, killed in 1963, was a Democratic candidate for the White House. On June 5, 1968, at the “Ambassador” hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after the performance celebrating victory in the California democratic primaries, he was hit by Sirhan Sirhan’s three bullets. He died the next day.
Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem, claimed to have no memory of the attack, which he explained with alcohol abuse. He admitted that he was angry with Kennedy for his support for Israel. He was sentenced to death in 1969, but the sentence was changed to life imprisonment when the California Supreme Court lifted the highest sentence for several months in 1972.
Sirhan said he has learned to control his anger and that he will “pursue a life of peace and non-violence.” He adds that he is too old to get involved in the Middle East conflict.
The California Parole Board will review the decision of the two-person panel within the next 90 days. Thereafter, her decision will be sent to the governor of California. They will have 30 days to decide whether to release, revoke or amend them.
Some members of the Kennedy family, Los Angeles law enforcement officials, and members of the public have issued letters opposing Sirhan’s release.
Main photo source: Library of Congress