RFK assassin Sirhan wins parole with support of 2 Kennedys
California parole board found Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan no longer poses a threat to society
For 15 years, Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin was denied parole by a California parole board that maintained Sirhan Sirhan did not show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime that rocked the nation and the world in 1968.
But on Friday, the two-person panel said he appeared to be a different man, even from his last hearing in 2016, and granted the 77-year-old prisoner parole. Two of RFK’s sons, going against several of their siblings’ wishes, said they also supported releasing him and prosecutors declined to argue he should be kept behind bars. But the governor ultimately will decide if he leaves prison.
The board found Sirhan no longer poses a threat to society, noting that he had enrolled in more than 20 programmes including anger management classes, Tai Chi and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, even during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We think that you have grown,” Parole Board Commissioner Robert Barton said.
Douglas Kennedy was a toddler when his father was gunned down in 1968. He told a two-person board panel that he was moved to tears by Sirhan’s remorse and that Sirhan should be released if he’s not a threat to others.
“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,” he said. “I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.”
Six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children, however, said they were shocked by the vote. They urged Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election in California, to reverse the parole board’s decision and keep Sirhan behind bars.
“He took our father from our family and he took him from America,” the six siblings wrote in a statement late Friday. “We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release.
The statement was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy.
But another sibling, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has spoken in favour of his release in the past and wrote in favour of paroling Sirhan. He said in the letter that he met him in prison and was moved by Sirhan, “who wept, clinching my hands, and asked for forgiveness.
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