RFK’s grandson: Sirhan Sirhan ‘does not deserve’ parole

BOSTON — Former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III is echoing his father’s opposition to the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of killing his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, in Los Angeles in 1968.

The former Congressman issued a statement on Wednesday, days after the 77-year-old Sirhan Sirhan was granted parole on Friday with the support of two of RFK’s sons, Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“I believe deeply in the possibility of parole in the American justice system. I also believe deeply that the man who murdered my grandfather does not deserve it,” Joseph P. Kennedy III said.

He joins several members of the Kennedy family who do not approve of the recommended release of Sirhan.

“I echo the anger and heartache of my father, the majority of his siblings, and my grandmother at the California Parole Board’s recent recommendation,” he said. “For our family, there has been no apology, no acceptance of responsibility, and no remorse. For our country, there has been no justification of letting the perpetrator of one of our most devastating political assassinations walk free.”

“This country cannot accept violence as an answer to political disagreement. Not now. Not ever,” he said.

Over the weekend, his father, former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II who currently serves as chairman of Citizens Energy Corporation in Boston, also issued a statement opposing the release of Sirhan.

“I understand that there are differing views about ending the sentence of this killer, including within my own family. But emotions and opinions do not change facts or history,” Joseph P. Kennedy II said, adding that granting parole to his father’s assassin is a “grievous error” that should be reversed.

His son, Joseph P. Kennedy III, agreed.

“Our criminal justice system has been plagued by inequities since our founding,” Joseph P. Kennedy III said. “A movement towards rehabilitation, compassion and understanding is long overdue. But for those who have committed heinous acts of violence, and continue to shirk responsibility, reject accountability and resist any sort of empathy, there should be no such accommodation.”

While Friday’s parole decision was a major victory for Sirhan, it does not assure his release. California’s governor ultimately will decide that.

This story contains information from The Associated Press.

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