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Shane O'Sullivan

Parole Sirhan on February 10th

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On February 10, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, will be considered for parole in San Diego. Sirhan was originally scheduled for release in 1984 but after intense political pressure, his parole date was rescinded in 1982 and he has since been denied thirteen times.

In March, Sirhan will turn 72 years old, having spent two-thirds of his life in prison for a crime he cannot remember committing. For three years prior to his last parole hearing in 2011, Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard Medical School spent over sixty hours with Sirhan trying to recover his memory of the shooting. Dr. Brown concluded Sirhan’s amnesia for events before and during the shooting was real but his findings were ignored by the parole board, who saw the gaps in Sirhan’s memory as a cynical ruse to minimise his responsibility for his crime.

Sirhan has been an exemplary inmate, with no prison violations since 1972 and an excellent work record. If paroled, he would be deported to Jordan to live out his final years, a danger to nobody. But as The Marshall Project recently discovered in a year-long examination of America’s parole boards, parole decisions are often driven not by public safety but by politics. Since 1982, California has treated Sirhan like a political prisoner who will never be released, not a human being who has served his time and has the right to a fair hearing and the rule of law. In the courts, his habeas corpus petition was denied last year, despite new audio evidence indicating thirteen shots were fired in the Ambassador Hotel pantry that evening.

American journalism’s record of reporting this case has been abysmal, with no serious investigation by a news organisation since a CBS News inquiry forty years ago. While Sirhan is still alive, there’s still time to reinvestigate his case and expose the politicised charade that his appeal and parole process have become. I will be blogging on the case daily in advance of Sirhan’s parole hearing, releasing a range of new archival material, and I urge others to join me: www.sirhanbsirhan.com

I've posted a video giving an overview of the case, with previously-unseen clips from Sirhan’s 2011 hearing here.

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I'm very pleased to hear that Paul Schrade, a close friend of Bobby Kennedy and his family, will attend Sirhan's parole hearing. Paul stood beside RFK during his victory speech and then walked behind him into the pantry, where he was shot in the head by Sirhan and his friend Bob was assassinated.

Now 91, he has led a campaign to reopen the case for over forty years, based on eyewitness evidence that Sirhan could not have fired the fatal shot described in Kennedy's autopsy and an analysis of the only known audio recording of the shooting which indicates thirteen shots - and two guns - were fired. Paul recently worked with Bobby Kennedy's family to turn the Ambassador Hotel into the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex and will address Sirhan and the parole board at the end of the hearing.

For more, see www.sirhanbsirhan.com/justice

Edited by Shane O'Sullivan

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I'm very pleased to hear that Paul Schrade, a close friend of Bobby Kennedy and his family, will attend Sirhan's parole hearing. Paul stood beside RFK during his victory speech and then walked behind him into the pantry, where he was shot in the head by Sirhan and his friend Bob was assassinated. [...] [emphasis added]

I believe Sirhan should be paroled because he is innocent of the crime. However, if you believe that the portion of your statement that I bolded above [where he was shot in the head by Sirhan] is true, why would you want him to be paroled?

[edit] After posting this I realized that since Schrade is of the belief that he was himself shot in the head by Sirhan, which may well be true, then the disposition of Sirhan's guilt as viewed by Schrade is significant, IMO. That Sirhan does not remember shooting anyone at all--if we are to believe him--speaks to his innocence.

Edited by Greg Burnham

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After telling Charlie Rose three years ago he found the evidence of conspiracy in the JFK assassination "very, very convincing", Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has now publicly supported a new investigation into his father's murder. Read my detailed report on Sirhan's parole hearing here: http://whowhatwhy.org/2016/02/16/22296/

Edited by Shane O'Sullivan

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