13 shots = 2 guns

A couple of days before the fortieth anniversary of the RFK assassination in 2008, I interviewed forensic audio expert Phil van Praag about his stunning analysis of the Pruszynski recording, the only known audio of the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel on 5 June, 1968.

You can watch a seven-minute overview of Phil’s findings above, made for the Documentary Channel as an epilogue to my film RFK Must Die. You can also read Phil’s detailed declaration for Sirhan’s habeas corpus petition below. In short, he concludes that at least thirteen shots were fired from two guns in the Ambassador pantry that night but the courts denied Sirhan’s petition without even granting an evidentiary hearing.

Black Op Radio interview


I did a forty-minute interview with Len Osanic of Black Op Radio the other day, which you can now listen to above. Len has a summary of our discussion on his site and has William Pepper, Lynn Mangan and Paul Schrade lined up for next Thursday’s show, reacting to Wednesday’s hearing.

Sirhan Sirhan

The photo above, published here for the first time courtesy of California State Archives, shows Sirhan in his cell in August, 1968 and I’ll be posting more rare photos tomorrow. As Sirhan’s hearing draws near, here are links to some of the key research material we’ve released during this campaign and the earlier work it was based on:

Dr. Brown’s report

Sirhan Sirhan

For three years prior to his last parole hearing in 2011, Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard Medical School spent over sixty hours with Sirhan 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.

Dr. Brown’s report inspired a television experiment by the British mentalist Derren Brown called The Assassin, in which he tried to hypnotically program an unwitting member of his audience to shoot the celebrity Stephen Fry. The experiment was modelled on the particulars of the Sirhan case and the ‘three automatic demonstrations of “range mode” behaviour in hypnosis’ Dr. Brown observed during his sessions with Sirhan, ‘each of which was followed by complete amnesia…’

I advised on the Derren Brown program and I think the opening sequence above shows the Manchurian Candidate theory isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. Read Dr. Brown’s report below for a full description of the “range mode” observed in Sirhan forty years after the assassination and totally ignored by the courts and the parole board to date.

Sirhan with David Frost

In February 1989, David Frost, an ardent admirer of Bobby Kennedy, interviewed Sirhan Sirhan in Corcoran prison. The interview was first broadcast in the US over three nights on the syndicated Inside Edition but a longer version was broadcast by the BBC and it makes for fascinating viewing, as one of only two in-depth television interviews Sirhan has ever done.

I recommend watching the whole thing but the clip above jumps to halfway through the interview, as Sirhan recalls his reprieve from Death Row and discusses in some detail whether he should be paroled. ‘Obviously, there’s a lot of public opinion out there that says never’, says Frost:

Well…if I were a monster, I would say never. If I were a mass-murderer, I would say never. If I were a serial murderer, I would say never. But to punish me for one single act, a criminal act as heinous and as onerous as it was…it just doesn’t seem fair. Of some hundred men who were with me on Death Row, Mr. Frost, 43 of them have been released on parole and are on the streets now and many of the remaining ones have been found suitable by the California Parole Board and have release dates. I just wonder what would be so egregious about, you know, being humane and merciful and carrying out as impartially towards me as you would carry it out towards other formerly condemned men.

The US broadcast ended with a telephone vote asking viewers ‘Should Sirhan Sirhan be Paroled?’ Host Bill O’Reilly expressed surprise that of almost 200,000 votes cast, a quarter favoured parole. That was twenty-seven years ago.


Justice and Compassion

Today, I’m posting Sirhan Sirhan’s closing statement from his previous parole hearing in 2011 – abruptly curtailed by the commissioner – followed by a statement from William Weisel, one of the shooting victims, who voiced no objection to Sirhan being paroled.

I’m very pleased to say that Paul Schrade, a close friend of Bobby Kennedy and his family, will attend this year’s 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.

Paul Schrade wounded Q77.25

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.

Both Weisel and Schrade embody the values of justice, understanding and compassion championed by Bobby Kennedy but noticeably lacking in Sirhan’s parole process over the last thirty-four years.