Sirhan Sirhan has been in prison for 53 years for the murder of US politician Robert F. Kennedy. A parole board recommended his release. The California governor has now rejected it.
The murderer of US politician Robert F. Kennedy, who has been imprisoned for more than five decades, will not be released on parole. California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke out on Thursday (local time) against the release of 77-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 is one of the most notorious crimes in American history, Newsom wrote in a statement. After decades in prison, Sirhan has not shown the necessary insight that would prevent him from making further dangerous decisions.
A parole board in California voted in favor of Sirhan’s release in August. Sirhan has been in prison for 53 years and had now made his 16th appeal for clemency. The commission’s decision was presented to the California governor, who has now rejected it.
Ethel Kennedy, 93-year-old widow of Robert F. Kennedy, and six of their 11 children said they were “deeply relieved” by Newsom’s decision in a joint statement Thursday. Two Kennedy sons, on the other hand, spoke out in favor of Sirhan’s release.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote in a letter to the parole board in August that he believed his father recognized Sirhan’s impressive rehabilitation, the Los Angeles Times reported. Douglas Kennedy said prisoners should be released when they no longer pose a threat to themselves or others.
Sirhan, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian, shot and killed Kennedy in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 – just hours after he had won the California primary to nominate the Democratic US presidential nominee. The US judiciary assumed that Kennedy’s pro-Israel attitude was the motive of the then 24-year-old perpetrator. Kennedy’s brother, US President John F. Kennedy, had been shot dead five years earlier in Dallas, Texas.
Sirhan was sentenced to death in 1969. After California suspended the death penalty in 1972, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.