The assassin responsible for killing Senator Robert F. Kennedy has been granted parole.
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, 77, is a Palestinian born convicted felon who shot and killed the brother of John F. Kennedy in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif. The former U.S Attorney General tragically passed away the following day on June 6, 1968.
Though originally, Sirhan was sentenced to death, it was reduced to life imprisonment in 1972 when California ruled capitol punishment to be unconstitutional. As of now, the convicted murderer served a total of 53 years in prison.
The news came on Friday, August 27, at the former militant's 16th parole hearing. Zero prosecutors opposed parole being granted, and even two of Kennedy's children had no issue with the ruling.
Douglas Kennedy openly spoke of his views of Sirhan, and commented on the weight of being able to see his father's killer with grace and empathy.
"I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face. I think I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another." The investigative journalist went on, "I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love."
Robert Kennedy Jr. also reportedly sent a letter to the board to voice his support for his father's murderer's parole.
Sirhan's attorney, Angela Berry, spoke to the court on the elderly felon's behalf. "We can’t change the past, but he was not sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. To justify denying it based on the gravity of the crime and the fact that it disenfranchised millions of Americans is ignoring the rehabilitation that has occurred and that rehabilitation is a more relevant indicator of whether or not a person is still a risk to society."
As for Sirhan, he made a statement to the California Parole Board, promising that he would never "put [himself] in jeopardy again" if given the chance to one day walk free.
He told the board, "You have my pledge. I will always look to safety and peace and non-violence."
This is a step in the right direction for Sirhan — who has had no disciplinary violations in several decades during his prison time — but there is no guarantee that he will be released soon or if he will walk free at all.
He is required to wait an 120 review period before further steps are taken.