June 19, 1997 in Nation/World

Sirhan Sirhan Claims Innocence, Denied Parole

Associated Press

Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole for the 10th time Wednesday after stunning a parole hearing by declaring he now believes he did not kill Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

“I believe I’m innocent of this crime and that I did not commit this crime,” Sirhan said in the hearing at Corcoran State Prison.

Sirhan was grim-faced as the board’s ruling was announced. He can seek parole again in three years.

The prosecutor assigned to the parole hearing, Thomas L. Trapp, called Sirhan’s claim of innocence “preposterous.”

“It is mind-boggling and insulting to the American people. It is hurtful to the family of Sen. Kennedy. It is so shocking,” Trapp said.

Kennedy was shot June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angles minutes after claiming victory in the California presidential primary. Sirhan, who was wrestled to the ground with a gun in his hand, has long claimed to suffer from amnesia about that night.

At his trial, the Palestinian immigrant was portrayed as a rabid anti-Israeli.

In denying parole, the Board of Prison Terms said Sirhan remained a danger to society although it commended him for being free of disciplinary problems in prison.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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