California parole board votes to free Robert F Kennedy’s assassin

California: California’s parole board voted Friday to free Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin after two of RFK’s sons went against several of their siblings’ wishes and said they supported releasing him and prosecutors declined to argue he should be kept behind bars. But the governor ultimately will decide if Sirhan Sirhan leaves prison.

Douglas Kennedy was a toddler when his father was gunned down in 1968. He told a two-person board panel that he was moved to tears by Sirhan’s remorse and that the 77-year-old should be released if he’s not a threat to others.

“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,” he said. “I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.”

Six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children said they were shocked by the vote and urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to reverse the parole board’s decision and keep Sirhan behind bars.

“He took our father from our family and he took him from America,” the six siblings wrote in a statement late Friday. “We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release.

The statement was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy.

But another sibling, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has spoken in favor of his release in the past and wrote in favor of paroling Sirhan. He said in the letter that he met him in prison and was moved by Sirhan, “who wept, clinching my hands, and asked for forgiveness.”

“While nobody can speak definitively on behalf of my father, I firmly believe that based on his own consuming commitment to fairness and justice, that he would strongly encourage this board to release Mr. Sirhan because of Sirhan’s impressive record of rehabilitation,” he said in a letter submitted during the hearing to the board. - AP