Former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II condemns parole recommendation for Sirhan B. Sirhan


“The prisoner killed my father because of his support for Israel. The man was tried, convicted and sentenced to death, ”Kennedy continued. “Yet he can now walk freely, no doubt to the cheers of those who share his point of view. Make no mistake, the prisoner’s release will be celebrated by those who believe that political disagreements can be resolved with a gun.

Kennedy, the eldest son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, is a six-term former congressman from the state’s eighth congressional district. He is one of the couple’s 10 children, eight of whom are alive.

His comments came two days after he joined five siblings in a statement condemning Friday’s recommendation by the two California parole boards to release the killer who shot Robert F. Kennedy after midnight on June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when the New York senator was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy was gunned down as he walked through the hotel pantry after a victory speech after winning the Democratic primary in California.

He died the next day.

In their statement released Friday, the six Kennedy children vowed to challenge the parole recommendation “every step of the way.” On Saturday, Maxwell T. Kennedy, one of six siblings who signed the statement, published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling “the mere thought” of Sirhan’s release “sickening.”

Five other people around Kennedy were also shot dead, but they all survived.

His death came less than five years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, one of his brothers, on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.

Sirhan, 77, is serving a life sentence in a California state prison. He has already been denied parole 15 times.

In 1972, Sirhan’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison after California abolished the death penalty.

“My mother, Ethel Kennedy, and my uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, have called for his death sentence to be reduced to life imprisonment as a sign of mercy. He received this mercy, ”Kennedy wrote. “No one should have the right to alter the lesser sentence requested by the person most affected by my father’s death – his wife, whose last child would never know a father’s touch. Nothing written, said or done will ever change this reality.

Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., two of the children of the late senators, supported the decision to release Sirhan.

“I am overwhelmed just being able to see Mr. Sirhan face to face,” said Douglas Kennedy during Friday’s virtual parole panel meeting, according to the Associated Press. “I have 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.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also attended the virtual hearing but did not speak. He submitted a letter supporting Sirhan’s parole.

A spokesperson for Joseph P. Kennedy II said that Ethel Kennedy was not commenting on her husband’s death. Former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III declined to comment on Sunday night’s parole recommendation.

The parole board committee’s decision is subject to a 120-day review by board legal staff, during which the case may be referred to the full board for further assessment before it is processed. a final judgment is rendered.

Joseph Kennedy II does not name any of his siblings in his statement. He appeals directly to the Full Parole Board and, if necessary, California Governor Gavin Newsom, to overturn the decision.

“I hope the Full Parole Board will overturn the decision during the current review period and that the Governor of California, if faced with the choice to release him, will keep him in jail to serve his sentence.” life imprisonment.

“The murderer of anyone who runs for or holds public office because of his political position must know that he will spend a minimum of life in prison without parole,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy pointed out that he and his family are still mourning the loss of his 42-year-old father.

“We miss him every moment of every day and we struggle to understand why the prisoner should be able to enjoy the golden years of his life when he so viciously stole them from our father. There is no justice in this, ”Kennedy said in the statement.

Globe Wires Services and New York Times material used in this article.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.

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