Move Afoot To Reopen Case Against Sirhan Sirhan
John Hiscock, The Independent (London), 1/18/05
Robert Kennedy lies dead in the Ambassador Hotel, main picture, after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan, who was immediately arrested, top. Right: a recent picture of Sirhan, whose case has been taken up by the actor Robert Vaughn, above
It happened nearly 38 years ago, but doubts and suspicions have lingered on. Now the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Robert Kennedy are being resurrected and re-examined in an attempt to establish the truth of what happened that night in the cramped pantry of a Los Angeles hotel.
New evidence has emerged and pressure is mounting on authorities to reopen the case of Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of the assassination and who remains in the California state prison in Corcoran.
Celebrities and journalists are joining the campaign for a federal investigation, which has been sparked in part by a new book, Nemesis, by the British author Peter Evans. Evans, who spent 10 years researching the book, has unearthed evidence to support Sirhan's contention that he was hypnotised into being the"fall guy" for the murder. Evans identifies the hypnotist, who had worked on CIA mind control programmes and who was later found dead in mysterious circumstances.
In another move to reopen the case, a lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court to stop the pantry at the Ambassador Hotel being destroyed with the rest of the hotel because, it is claimed, bullet holes in the walls and ceiling demonstrate conclusively that more than one gunman fired shots at Senator Kennedy.
Both Evans and Sirhan's lawyer, Larry Teeter, are convinced that the Palestinian activist was chosen to be a Manchurian Candidate-style assassin. In the 1962 film, remade last year, and based on a novel by Richard Condon, a former prisoner of war from the Korean conflict is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin.
Evans and Teeter believe that while Sirhan fired several shots, none of them hit Kennedy. The assassination, they say, was carried out by a professional hitman who fled immediately, leaving Sirhan to take the blame.
It was only because Kennedy had dismissed his Los Angeles police bodyguards that Sirhan survived and was not gunned down on the spot as his controllers had intended, reports Evans.
The actor Robert Vaughn, who starred in the long-running television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E and who was a good friend of Robert Kennedy's, has sent a copy of Evans' book to Sirhan and his lawyers. In his letter to Sirhan, Vaughn wrote:"It contains important new information about your case that I believe substantiates your claims of having been hypnotised at the time of the shooting and also produces the first credible evidence of motivation and method. I can tell you that, like me, important people in the US media are persuaded by Mr Evans' revelations; some are talking of it opening the door to a long overdue federal investigation into the assassination. I also believe that it could give you the grounds for a new appeal."
The author Dominick Dunne, in his Vanity Fair column last month, described Nemesis as presenting"a startling revision of American history".
Robert Kennedy was the senator for New York, the head of the Kennedy clan and, according to Evans, the occasional lover of his sister-in-law, Jackie Kennedy, when his snowballing presidential campaign rolled into California. He triumphed in the California primary, and around midnight on 5 June 1968 in the Embassy Room of the Ambassador Hotel he thanked his supporters. Then, surrounded by aides, hotel employees and newsmen, with his wife, Ethel, a few yards behind and with the cheers still ringing in his ears, he left for a press conference in the Colonial Room on the other side of the hotel.
The route they took, from the stage to an anteroom and into the service corridors, led them through a narrow serving-kitchen known as the pantry. As the senator approached, a dark, slim young man stepped from behind a tray rack. He raised a .22 calibre revolver and squeezed the trigger. The gunman continued firing, wounding five other people as Kennedy aides and hotel employees wrestled him down on to a table for steaming food, where he was held until police arrived.
On 17 April 1969, after 64 sequestered days and nights, and 16 and a half hours of deliberation, the jury of seven men and five women found Sirhan"alone and not in concert with anyone else" guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to death in the gas chamber, but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment when the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional.
Those facts are not in dispute. Nearly everything else is.
"There was no way Sirhan Sirhan killed Kennedy," says Teeter, who has filed the lawsuit to preserve the pantry for further forensic examination."He was the fall guy. His job was to get busted while the trigger man walked out. He wasn't consciously involved in any plot. He was a patsy. He was unconscious and unaware of what was happening - he was the true Manchurian Candidate.
"He is absolutely innocent. He is not the person who did the shooting. He was out of position and out of range and he couldn't have done it."
Teeter does not know for certain who hypnotised Sirhan, but, he said:"I know it was done. It was consistent with the US government's programme developed by the CIA and Military Intelligence to enable handlers to get people to commit crimes with no knowledge of what they are doing."
Evans goes further and names the hypnotist as a Dr William Joseph Bryan Jnr. He had worked on a CIA mind-control programme called MKULTRA and claimed to have moonlighted as a technical adviser on The Manchurian Candidate. The hypnosis, says Evans, had been done over three months, a period known as the"white fog" when the Los Angeles police task force later investigating the assassination - and trying to construct a meticulous timetable of Sirhan's activities up to the shooting - lost track of him.
Sergeant Bill Jordan, the detective who was Sirhan's first interrogator, told Evans:"We took him back for more than a year with some intensity - where he'd been, what he'd been doing, who he'd been seeing. But there was this 10- or 12-week gap, like a blanket of white fog we could never penetrate, and which Sirhan himself appeared to have a complete amnesia about."
Dr Bryan was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room in 1978. He had either shot himself or was murdered. The case remains unsolved.
[Editor's Note: This is only a portion of a much longer piece. Please see The Independent's website for the entire story.]
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Mel Ayton - 5/7/2005
See History News Network article - http://hnn.us/articles/10781.html