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Robert F Kennedy’s youngest son appeals for father’s killer to be freed at parole hearing

Sirhan Sirhan has served 53 years in prison for 1968 murder in Los Angeles

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 27 August 2021 22:24 BST
In this image provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in San Diego. Sirhan faces his 16th parole hearing Friday for fatally shooting U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968
In this image provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in San Diego. Sirhan faces his 16th parole hearing Friday for fatally shooting U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 (AP)

Robert F Kennedy’s youngest son has appealed for his father’s killer Sirhan Sirhan to be finally freed on parole.

Douglas Kennedy was just a child when his father, a New York Senator and the brother of President John F Kennedy, was murdered in Los Angeles in 1968, but told a parole hearing in California that he believed in Sirhan’s remorse.

“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr Sirhan face to face,” told the hearing at San Diego County Prison.

“I think 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.”

Kennedy was a Democratic presidential candidate when he was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles moments after delivering a victory speech in the pivotal California primary.

(AP)

Sirhan, 77, has served 53 years for the murder and this was his 16th attempt to win parole.

He told members of the California Parole Board that he had learned to control his anger and believed in living peacefully.

“I would never put myself in jeopardy again,” said Sirhan, who appeared wearing a blue prison uniform.

“You have my pledge. I will always look to safety and peace and non-violence.”

Unusually for California parole hearings there was no prosecutor present to give law enforcement’s opinion on any release.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, a former police officer who took office last year after running on a reform platform, has a policy that prosecutors should not influence the decision to release a prisoner.

Mr Gascon has argued that any decision should be left to board members to evaluate if Sirhan has been rehabilitated and can be released with any danger to the community.

1968: Senator Robert Kennedy speaking at an election rally. (Getty Images)

Sirhan, a Christian Palestinian from Jordan, has previously said he was angry at Kennedy for his support of Israel, although he says he has no memory of the murder.

When asked about how he feels about the Middle East conflict on Friday, Sirhan broke down crying, and said that although he does not follow what happens there he does think about the suffering of refugees.

“The misery that those people are experiencing. It’s painful,” Sirhan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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