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Kennedy assassin denied parole

Parole board members have refused to free Robert F Kennedy's convicted assassin after ruling that he had not shown enough remorse and did not understand the severity of a crime that was mourned by a nation four decades ago.

Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian Christian from Jordan who is now 66, spoke at length on Wednesday and expressed sorrow, but said he did not remember shooting Mr Kennedy or five other victims on June 5, 1968, in the crowded kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Mr Kennedy stood moments after claiming victory in the California presidential primary.

"Every day of my life, I have great remorse and deep regret," he told a panel of two parole board commissioners at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.

The panel chairman, Mike Prizmich, and the deputy commissioner, Randy Kevorkian, told Sirhan he must seek further self-help courses, come to terms with the shooting and show evidence of his improvement by his next parole hearing, which will be in five years.

"The magnitude of this crime is one that a nation mourned over, and from that day on, politicians changed the way they interacted with people," Mr Prizmich said.

He noted the impact on the Kennedy family, which had endured another tragedy five years before with the killing of Robert Kennedy's brother, president John F Kennedy.

At that point, Sirhan interjected: "That's not my responsibility."

The chairman cut him off: "In this way, interrupting me indicates a lack of control of yourself."

Sirhan, with greying hair and a missing front tooth, appeared cheerful as he entered the hearing room. He was talkative, bidding the commissioners "good afternoon" - a departure from his previous 12 parole hearings, during which he rarely spoke and sometimes did not even appear.

He pleaded with the panel to give him a release date, saying he was willing to accept the possibility of deportation to his native Jordan. He said no one in his family was involved in politics and he suggested he would not be either if he was released.

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