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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – More than 53 years after her husband was assassinated in Los Angeles, Robert F. Kennedy’s widow said Tuesday that his killer, Sirhan Sirhan, should not be freed, despite the recommendation last month that he be paroled.
“Bobby believed we should work to ‘tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.’ 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,” the 93-year-old Ethel Kennedy said in a statement Tuesday.
“Our family and our country suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man. 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. He should not be paroled.”
Sirhan assassinated Kennedy in June 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A., as the New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate was claiming victory in the California primary.
He was recommended for parole on his 16th attempt on Aug. 27. The decision by a two-person panel does not automatically mean that the 77-year-old Sirhan, who is imprisoned at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa in San Diego County, will be released. The decision entered a 120-day review period, after which it will be forwarded to the governor, who will have 30 days to decide whether to uphold the decision, reject it or modify it.
During the hearing, Kennedy’s youngest son, Douglas, spoke in favor of Sirhan’s release. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also sent a letter to the board in support of parole.
However, six of Kennedy’s other seven living children issued a statement after the decision explaining they were “devastated that the man who murdered our father has been recommended for parole.”
The hearing was not attended by anyone from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney George Gascon has set a policy against attending parole hearings for defendants who have served lengthy prison sentences beyond the required minimum term. His office took the position that the parole board has all the information it needs to decide if an inmate is suitable for release.
A Palestinian from Jordan, Sirhan was initially sentenced to death, but it was later commuted to life in prison after the state Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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