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Robert F. Kennedy’s widow joined a growing number of family members this week in demanding state officials block the parole of the late presidential candidate’s convicted killer.
“Our family and our country suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man,” Kennedy, 93, wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “We believe in the gentleness that spared his life, but in taming his act of violence, he should not have the opportunity to terrorize again.”
Sirhan shot Kennedy outside a Los Angeles hotel on June 5, 1968, after he'd given a ballroom speech while on the presidential campaign trail. Sirhan later confessed to gunning him down as he was against the U.S. Senator’s support of Israel.
Sirhan, who has previously been denied release 15 times, was recommended for parole on Aug. 27 by a two-person board.
“Bobby believed we should work to ‘tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world,’” Kennedy added. “He wanted to end the war in Vietnam and bring people together to build a better, stronger country. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father and loving husband.”
Several of Kennedy’s surviving children previously signed a statement advocating for Sirhan’s continued detention.
“Our father’s death impacted our family in ways that can never adequately be articulated but today’s decision by a two-member parole board has inflicted enormous additional pain,” read the statement, which was posted to human rights lawyer Kerry Kennedy’s Instagram account.
Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, and Rory Kennedy had signed the letter.
"On behalf of my mother and all Americans whose lives were altered by this appalling crime, I condemn this unwarranted recommendation and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the right thing and publicly reject the panel's decision," Maxwell Taylor Kennedy also wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed last month. "I commit myself to doing everything within my power to stop his release."
Joseph P. Kennedy II, the oldest surviving son of the former congressman, also rebuked the parole board’s decision as an error.
“I understand that there are differing views about ending the sentence of this killer, including within my own family,” he said in a separate statement. “But emotions and opinions do not change facts or history.”
Robert Kennedy Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, two other surviving sons of the former congressman, are in favor of Sirhan’s release.
Sirhan’s parole hearing in August marked the first time prosecutors didn’t actively argue for his ongoing incarceration. L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón declined to participate in the proceedings, citing his office's mandate and limited role in the parole process of convicted offenders.
The California Parole Board will issue a final written decision within 120 days of the decision regarding Sirhan’s parole. Gov. Gavin Newsom has another 30 days to approve or deny the parole board’s decision.
Sirhan’s attorney is adamant the 77-year-old doesn’t pose a risk to society.
“What the board is supposed to be looking at, not what the crime was 53 years ago — the board is to look at whether or not he poses a current danger to society,” Angela Berry, Sirhan’s attorney, told Oxygen.com last month. “The board followed the law.”
Sirhan could be deported, possibly to Jordan, or may reside with his brother in California if his parole is officially granted, according to his lawyer.
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