Robert F. Kennedy assassin said to have been stabbed by fellow inmate

Sirhan Sirhan was in stable condition after reports said he had been stabbed in prison by another inmate.
Sirhan Sirhan was in stable condition after reports said he had been stabbed in prison by another inmate.PHOTO: AP

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Sirhan Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence for the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was in stable condition at a Southern California hospital on Friday night (Aug 30) after reports that he had been stabbed in prison by another inmate, the state prison system said.

The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would not confirm that Sirhan, who is now 75, had been attacked, citing a state law shielding the names of crime victims.

But it did confirm that an inmate had been stabbed at 2.21 pm (5.21am on Saturday, Singapore time) at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, where Sirhan is serving his sentence, and that no other inmates had been attacked on Friday.

Officials would not say what had prompted the attack, which was first reported by TMZ.

Sirhan has been denied parole 15 times. His next parole hearing is in 2021.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination on June 6, 1968, in Los Angeles. His death punctuated a tumultuous year for the United States.

The Rev Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated just two months earlier, and the riots at the Democratic National Convention occurred two months later. Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated in 1963.

 
 
 

Robert Kennedy, who had served in his brother's Cabinet as attorney-general before being elected as a senator from New York, appeared to have gained the momentum for his own presidential bid when he was fatally shot by Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

He had just wrapped up a speech to supporters in the hotel ballroom after winning California's Democratic primary over Senator Eugene J. McCarthy. As Kennedy was leaving the hotel through a kitchen, Sirhan shot him three times with a .22-calibre revolver.

Sirhan, who was 24 at the time of the assassination, said that he could not remember shooting Kennedy.

In his first television interview after the shooting, Sirhan, a Jordanian citizen, said he felt betrayed by Kennedy's support for Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He was sentenced to death for the assassination, but when California outlawed capital punishment in 1972, it became a life sentence.

Corrections officials said the suspect in Friday's prison attack had been identified and had been placed in an "administrative segregation unit" while they investigated.