Newsom denies pardoning RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan

By Don Thompson | Related press

SACRAMENTO — The governor of California on Thursday denied the release of Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan from prison more than half a century after a 1968 murder that left deep scars in one of America’s darkest periods. U.S.

Governor Gavin Newsom, who has branded RFK as his “political hero” and accepts the historic significance of his decision, rejected a proposal from a two-man panel of pardoned commissioners . Newsom said Sirhan, now 77, is an unjustified threat to public safety.

“Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is one of the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in his decision. The flaws that led him to assassinate Sen.

He said factors in his decision included Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crimes, a lack of insight and the accountability needed to support his safe release. , his failure to acknowledge violent behavior on his behalf, and his failure to reduce his risk factors.

Sirhan will be scheduled for a new hearing no later than February 2023.

His defense attorney, Angela Berry, said Sirhan would ask a judge to overturn Newsom’s denial.

“We fully expect that a review of the governor’s decision will show the governor was wrong,” she said.

State law stipulates that inmates must be pardoned unless they present an unreasonable public safety risk, she said, adding that “there does not exist some evidence that Mr. is a danger to society.” She said the parole process. became politicized, and Newsom “chosen to recruit his own experts (on parole board), ignoring the law”.

Parole commissioners found Sirhan suitable for release “because of his impressive track record of extensive rehabilitation over the past half-century,” she said. “Since the mid-1980s, Mr. Sirhan has been consistently found by prison psychologists and psychiatrists to pose no undue risk to the public.”

Kennedy, a US senator from New York, was shot shortly after he claimed victory in the crucial Democratic presidential election in California. Five others were wounded in the assassination attempt at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

His brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963.

The parole board’s recommendation in August to release Sirhan split the iconic Kennedy family, with RFK’s two sons – Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – in favor of his release. But six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children, and RFK’s wife, Ethel Kennedy, urged Newsom to block his pardon.

The panel’s decision was partly based on a number of new California laws since he was denied pardon in 2016 – the 15th time he’s lost his bid to be released.

The Commissioners were asked to consider that Sirhan committed the crime in his youth, at the age of 24; that he is now elderly; and Christian Palestinian immigrants from Jordan have suffered from childhood traumas from conflict in the Middle East.

In addition, Los Angeles County prosecutors do not object to his pardon, under the policy of District Attorney George Gascón that prosecutors should not be involved in deciding whether inmates are ready. released or not.

The decision is personal for Newsom, a Democrat who exhibits RFK photos in his official office and at home. One of them was Kennedy’s with Newsom’s late father.

Newsom has previously reflected on how serious it is to hold Sirhan’s fate in his own hands, saying it’s an emotional affair that echoes the tumultuous 60s and rekindles the memories many want. forget.

Sirhan was initially sentenced to death, but that sentence was reduced to life in prison when the California Supreme Court briefly enacted the death penalty in 1972.

His attorney, Angela Berry, said he now has a heart condition and has survived prostate cancer, Valley fever and being slashed in the throat by another inmate in 2019. Newsom denies pardoning RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan

Huynh Nguyen

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