Sirhan Sirhan, RFK assassin, denied parole

Sarhan was recommended for parole in August, after serving 53 years in prison for the 1968 murder. Two of Kennedy’s sons, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, supported the release during Sarhan’s 16th appearance before the California Parole Board. But other family members felt he should remain imprisoned.
A month later, Ethel Kennedy, Robert F.’s widow, said: Kennedy, in a statement that Sarhan “should not have the opportunity to be terrorized again.”

“He should not be released,” she said in a September statement.

Through the review process, Newsom noted his penchant for Kennedy, telling reporters that he keeps a framed picture of the former senator at the entrance to his office.

Newsom decided to reverse the parole board’s decision after determining that Sarhan “currently poses an unreasonable threat to public safety,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“The governor arrived at his decision based on several factors, including Mr. Sarhan’s refusal to take responsibility for his crime, the lack of insight and accountability necessary to support his safe release, the failure to disavow the violence committed in his name, and the failure to mitigate his risks,” the statement said.

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times explaining his decision, Newsom wrote that Sirhan recorded his plans to kill Kennedy before the assassination and decades after the murder, “Serhan began to evade responsibility” and also recently dismissed “the importance of his status as an ideological lightning rod.”

Newsom added that Sarhan, now 77, “remains a powerful symbol of political violence.”

“He does not understand, let alone possess the skills to manage, the complex risks to his notoriety. He cannot be safely released from prison because he has not mitigated the risk of provoking further political violence,” the governor wrote.

CNN has reached out to Sarhan’s lawyer for comment.

Kennedy family members who opposed Sarhan’s release said in a statement they were “deeply relieved” of the governor’s decision.

They said, “The act of a violent killer is in contradiction to the values ​​of openness, dialogue, and democratic change espoused by Robert Kennedy and which underlie our political system.” “The offender must change himself.”

“Because of the extent to which this murder is intertwined with popular culture, and amplified with repeated attempts by the inmate to release him, our family has had to watch our husband and father killed thousands of times,” they said, adding that the ruling’s decision “represents proving the rule of law over all those who betray him with hate and violence.”

“We are extremely grateful for this decision, which aims to ensure that neither our family nor our nation suffers the same tragic, irreparable loss,” they added.

Sarhan, then 24, shot Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after a campaign event in which Kennedy celebrated the initial victories in his Democratic presidential bid in 1968.

Sarhan’s lawyer previously described him as a Palestinian who became a refugee at the age of four and “witnessed atrocities” before immigrating to the United States as a teenager.

Sirhan was originally sentenced to death, and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972 after the California State Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

CNN’s Christina Maxuris contributed to this report.

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