Six of Robert F. Kennedy's nine surviving children are speaking out against a California panel's recommendation that their father's murderer, Sirhan Sirhan, be paroled after spending decades behind bars.
"We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release," the statement signed by Joseph, Courtney, Kerry, Christopher, Maxwell, and Rory Kennedy, reads, reports The New York Daily News.
They also said they are "devastated" by the panel's ruling.
“Our father’s death impacted us in our family in ways that can never adequately be articulated,” the siblings said in their statement. "Sirhan Sirhan committed a crime against our nation and its people. He took our father from our family and he took him from America."
The statement was released after Kennedy's sons, Robert Kenney Jr. and Douglas Kennedy said they support Sirhan's parole request.
Douglas Kennedy, 66, who is RFK's youngest son, said during Sirhan's virtual parole hearing that he is moved by the assassin's remorse.
"I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face," he said. "I think I’ve 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. has spoken out in the past in favor of parole for Sirhan and wrote a letter to the parole board in favor of the release of his father's killer.
RFK was a U.S. senator from New York who had just won the California primary in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination when he was killed minutes after giving a victory speech in Los Angeles.
He had served as attorney general for his older brother, former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. RFK was 42 years old when he was killed in 1968.
The opinions of Kennedy's 93-year-old widow, Ethel, and another of his children, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, 70, were not reported Friday.
Sirhan, now 77 years old, was a Palestinian immigrant from Jordan who had come to the United States in the 1950s as a child. He initially claimed he was drinking on the night of the assassination and does not remember pulling the trigger, but later admitted he was angry at Kennedy for his support of Israel.
He was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison when the California Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment in 1972.
Friday, he told the parole board that he is now committed to peace and pledged to "always look to safety and peace and nonviolence."
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