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Sirhan Sirhan arrives during a parole hearing Wednesday, February 10, 2016, at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. | Gregory Bull, Pool / AP Photo

OAKLAND – California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday he was not ready to comment on whether the state should release Robert F. Kennedy’s killer Sirhan Sirhan after the commission on releases State parolees decided last week to grant the killer’s release from state prison.

Newsom highlighted a months-long process that has yet to unfold before he is faced with a decision whether or not to grant Sirhan’s parole – whether the governor survives the recall election for governor of the ‘State in two weeks. But in his first remarks since the parole board decision, Newsom declared “my reverence, respect and adulation” for Kennedy, a Democratic icon who was assassinated following his victory in the 1968 presidential primary in California.

On Friday, two members of the National Parole Board decided to grant parole to Sirhan, who has spent 53 years in prison since he assassinated Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Democratic governor noted that the parole board’s decision has not been formalized and must still be submitted to the full board before it comes to it for deliberation, which may not happen “before a time”. He said that was one of the reasons he had been “careful” to comment publicly, in order to “allow the process”.

But he added that “anyone who has walked into my office” will see prominent photographs of Kennedy, his political idol, including “those famous train photographs” of mourners along the rails as Kennedy’s coffin was carried. by a funeral train.

“The first photo, the only photo you’ll see in my office is a photo of my father and Bobby Kennedy a few days before Bobby Kennedy was murdered,” Newsom said. “So, I hope this gives you some idea of ​​my feelings regarding Bobby Kennedy, in particular, my reverence, respect and adulation for his family and his memory.”

The prospect of Sirhan’s release has already become a matter of division. Six of Kennedy’s 11 children have expressed outrage at the possibility, while two of their siblings told State Council they supported Sirhan’s parole.

The move came after Los Angeles County prosecutors refused to oppose Sirhan’s parole under a policy of District Attorney George Gascón, a progressive who beat a traditional incumbent last year. of DA in a context of growing social justice.

The state parole board has 90 days to review the decision and determine whether to send it to the governor, who would then have 30 days to act on the recommendation.

Two prominent Republican recall candidates, Larry Elder and Kevin Kiley, both said on Saturday they would block Sirhan’s release. Elder, a conservative who led among GOP hopefuls, suggested this was the latest example of how he differs from Newsom.

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