California governor rejects parole board hoping for clemency for Sirhan Sirhan
Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected the California Parole Board’s recommendation to release Sirhan Sirhan, convicted in 1968 of killing U.S. senator and presidential candidate Robert Francis Kennedy.
“Mr. Sir Khan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is one of the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in Thursday’s decision. “After decades in prison, he has failed to address the flaws that led to his assassination of Senator Kennedy. Mr Sirhan lacks the insight to prevent him from making the same dangerous decisions as in the past.”
Sir Khan was convicted on June 5, 1968, of shooting Kennedy. At the time, the senator was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, hoping to follow his late brother Kennedy to the White House.
Prosecutors said the assassins were motivated by revenge for U.S. support for Israel during the June 1967 war. Sirhan insisted he did not remember shooting RFK.
Sir Khan, 77, has spent more than 50 years in prison. He was originally sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life in prison after California outlawed the death penalty in 1972.
The state parole board voted in August 2021 to recommend his release. No prosecutors were present at the hearing, in line with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gasko’s new policy of non-interference in the parole process.
Although Newsom and Gascon are Democrats, committed to “Criminal Justice Reform”, The governor argued that Sirhan’s refusal to take responsibility and failure to deny the violence committed in his name was not conducive to his release from prison.
Newsom also referred to RFK as his “Political Hero” He kept a photo of his father with the late senator in his office.
Last month, Kennedy’s son RFK Jr. urge Newsom lets assassin go, says his release “It best reflects my father’s legacy.” He argued that Sirhan posed no threat to society, sought forgiveness for the killing, and appeared to “Gentle, humble, kind, vulnerable, harmless.” However, six of his nine siblings disagree.
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