The Irish Mail on Sunday
The man who really killed RFK and got away with it
A corrupt LAPD let the guilty shooter escape justice, claims author William Klaber
Of all the tragedies that struck the Kennedy family it is the one that took Bobby at 42 years old that leaves many of us with the greatest sense of loss and unfulfilled potential.
Any life cut short by an assassin’s bullet is a dreadful event but you feel that if Bobby Kennedy had lived and gone on to win the 1968 presidential election, the United States – and South-East Asia – would have been saved from one of the darkest periods of history.
Nixon won, the Vietnam War raged on and Watergate dragged the presidency and the innocence of the New World so deeply into the mire that it has never fully emerged.
We believed a non-descript, diminutive, baby-faced man called Sirhan Sirhan gunned down Robert Kennedy, the fourth Kennedy to die in horrifying circumstances. But according to acclaimed author William Klaber, Sirhan didn’t do it, and the shortcomings of the Los
Angeles Police Department’s investigation would have been exposed in the multi-media forensic milieu of 2019.
Mr Klaber has applied modern forensic analysis to hundreds of hours of LAPD recordings of interviews. He spent 25 years working the files and he interviewed Sirhan Sirhan in prison. He has now collaborated with Emmy Award winner Zac Stuart-Pontier on a series of podcasts – The RFK Tapes – which bring the dark mysteries of the second Kennedy assassination to a new generation.
In the days after the June 5 assassination of the then-US senator at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles it appeared to be a slam dunk case for the LAPD. Mr Klaber tells the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘Bobby is shot in the hotel and a young man firing a pistol is grabbed just a couple of feet away from him and in time the young man admits to the crime, says he acted alone and offers a motive.’
Sirhan said Mr Kennedy supported injustices against his homeland of Palestine.
‘This is just open and shut and “what could be wrong with this?” …except that after Sirhan was convicted… the police refused to open their files,’ says Mr Klaber. ‘Why would… the police hold their files secret?.’
The LAPD came up with reasons like they had to protect their sources which, since little of the case was based on confidential sources, was ‘crazy’, says Mr Klaber. ‘It made no sense but they got away with it for 20 years, they didn’t open their files and when they did finally in 1988, I was part of a group that went through them.’
They revealed the pattern of corrupt misconduct at the LAPD that was to continue through to the Rodney King and OJ Simpson inquiries of the 1990s.
A flood of interviews and forensic evidence proved there were two guns firing. ‘The police had that evidence and they destroyed it,’ says Mr Klaber in an interview with the MoS from his upstate New York home.
The problem for the LAPD was that despite a systematic coverup, tapes were left of interviews in which the cops coached witnesses to change their stories. New ballistic evidence also emerged – there were guns all over that little space in the moments before RFK died, and Sirhan couldn’t have shot him from behind.
Thane Eugene Cesar, who had been hired as security for Senator Kennedy, has frequently been cited as the most likely candidate for a second gunman. He died in the Phillipines two months ago. When interviewed, he stated that he did draw a gun at the scene of the shooting, but insisted the weapon was a Rohm .38, not a .22, the calibre of the bullets found in Kennedy. The LAPD, who interviewed Cesar shortly after the shooting, did not regard him as a suspect and did not ask to see his gun.
Mr Klaber will appear as part of the Dublin Festival of Politics next Sunday, in the company of this writer. You can hear his revelations if you attend the event at Tailor’s Hall, near Christchurch.
Two of the late senator’s children have also called for a reopening of the investigation. Robert F Kennedy Jr – who met with Sirhan in prison in December 2017 – told The Washington Post that ‘the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father.’
Now RFK’s daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has joined her brother in calling for justice.
‘Bobby [her brother Robert Kennedy Jr] makes a compelling case,’ the former Maryland lieutenant governor told The Post. ‘I think it should be reopened.’
■ The Dublin Festival of Politics runs from November 21 to 24. For more information, see @PoliticsFestDub (Facebook & Twitter).
‘There were two guns firing. The police had that evidence and they destroyed it’