Palestinian Kennedy assassin again denied parole

Palestinian Kennedy assassin again denied parole
Sirhan Sirhan, now 71, will next be eligible for parole in five years time.
2 min read
11 February, 2016
Robert Kennedy, younger brother of JFK, was a leading US liberal in the 1960s [CC]
The man convicted of assassinating US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy has had his parole request rejected by US courts.

Sirhan Sirhan stood before the parole panel for three hours and described his inability to remember the shooting.

"If you want a confession, I can't make it now," the 71-year-old said. "Legally speaking, I'm not guilty of anything... It's not that I'm making light of it. I'm responsible for being there."

Sirhan suggested he had a high alcohol intake prior to the assassination and wished "this whole thing had never taken place".

But the Jordanian of Palestinian origin allegedly confessed to the killing of the presidential candidate in a 1989 interview in which he specified his motivation being Kennedy's "strong support for Israel".

However, Sirhan's defence team dispute the event. They suggest Sirhan was not positioned appropriately to be the shooter.

This is a claim backed by Paul Schrade, a family friend and survivor of the shooting, who believes a second shooter was responsible for the death of Kennedy.

Fuelling conspiracy theories around the death, photos taken by a 15-year-old Kennedy fan at the time of the shooting were immediately confiscated by police. They were among evidence sealed by a court for 20 years, and subsequently vanished decades later, stolen from a courier assigned to return the images to the photographer.

But the case remains clear-cut, as far as officials are concerned.

"This crime impacted the nation, and I daresay it impacted the world," parole panellist and commissioner Brian Roberts said. "It was a political assassination of a viable Democratic presidential candidate."

Sirhan was sentenced to death in 1969, but a timely Californian ban on capital punishment altered his fate, giving him life in prison instead.

Despite the previous 15 rejections, Sirhan will be entitled to another parole hearing in five years.