Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Gavin Newsom, governor of California, says the convicted murderer did not develop the “responsibility and insight” needed for his release.

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, denied parole to Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian refugee serving a life sentence for the 1968 assassination of US Presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy.

Newsom made the announcement Thursday after a California review board recommended in August that Sirhan be released from prison, subject to review by the board’s legal staff and by the governor himself. He has previously been denied parole 15 times.

Newsom set out his decision in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times and said he did not agree with the Parole Hearings Board which finds the 77-year-old fit for parole.

“After carefully reviewing the case, including records in the California State Archives, I determined that Sirhan did not develop the accountability and insight necessary to support his safe release into the community,” Newsom wrote.

Sirhan’s lawyer, Angela Berry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. She had previously said Sirhan had never been charged with a serious prison offense and that prison officials considered him a low risk.

Sirhan was convicted of shooting dead Kennedy (42) on June 5, 1968 in the kitchen cupboard of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

The shooting came minutes after the U.S. senator and former U.S. Attorney General delivered his victory speech after winning the California Democratic primary. Kennedy died the next day. Kennedy’s older brother President John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas.

Sirhan said he could not recall the assassination of Robert Kennedy, although he also said he shot at Kennedy because he was furious about his support for Israel.

After the parole board issued its recommendation, Kennedy’s widow, Ethel (93), expressed her opposition to Sirhan’s release, saying “our family and our country have suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man”.

Newsom pointed to what he called Sirhan’s “shifting story” about the murder and his refusal to accept responsibility for it as proof that he was not eligible for release.

Newsom added that the assassination was “one of the most notorious crimes in American history”.

Sirhan was sentenced to death in 1969, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after California banned the death penalty.

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