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RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan wounded in prison stabbing

Jerusalem-born Palestinian who opposed the US senator’s support of Israel hospitalized in stable condition after being knifed by fellow inmate

In this photo from February 10, 2016, Sirhan Sirhan reacts during a parole hearing at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, Pool, File)
In this photo from February 10, 2016, Sirhan Sirhan reacts during a parole hearing at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, Pool, File)

Sirhan Sirhan, imprisoned for more than 50 years for the 1968 assassination of US senator Robert F. Kennedy, was hospitalized Friday after being stabbed by a fellow inmate at a San Diego prison.

A statement from the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the stabbing occurred Friday afternoon at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility near San Diego.

“Officers responded quickly, and found an inmate with stab wound injuries. He was transported to an outside hospital for medical care, and is currently in stable condition,” the statement said.

The statement did not name Sirhan, but a government source with direct knowledge confirmed to The Associated Press that he was the victim. The source spoke under condition of anonymity, citing prison privacy regulations.

The stabbing was first reported by TMZ.

In this June 5, 1968 file photo, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy awaits medical assistance as he lies on the floor of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles moments after he was shot. (Boris Yaro/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

Corrections officials reported that the alleged attacker has been identified and has been segregated from the rest of the prison population pending an investigation.

Sirhan, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem, was convicted of shooting Kennedy shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, immediately after the New York senator had declared victory in the previous day’s California Democratic presidential primary.

He was murdered less than five years after the killing of US president John F. Kennedy — the senator’s older brother — and two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Kennedy had just finished delivering his victory speech to cheering supporters at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel when he decided to walk through the hotel kitchen. He had stopped to shake hands with a busboy who had delivered food to his room the day before when he was shot in the head. He died the next day.

Sirhan, 75, was originally sentenced to death. But when California briefly outlawed capital punishment, his sentence was reduced to life in prison. He has been denied parole several times.

Diaries in which Sirhan had written “RFK Must Die” were entered as evidence along with a motive of supposed hatred for Kennedy’s support for Israel.

Over the years, Sirhan has claimed to have no recollection of the shooting or his initial confession.

In one of many emotional outbursts during his 1969 trial, he blurted out that he had committed the crime “with 20 years of malice aforethought,” apparently referring to the time since Israel’s founding.

That and his declaration when arrested, “I did it for my country,” were his only relevant comments before he said he didn’t remember shooting Kennedy.

This June 1968 file photo shows Sirhan Sirhan, right, accused assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy with his attorney Russell E. Parsons in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/File)

Five bystanders were wounded during the shooting. In the chaos, Los Angeles Rams football great Rosey Grier, Olympic champion Rafer Johnson and others wrestled the murder weapon away.

As a high-profile prisoner, Sirhan had once been kept in a protective housing unit at Corcoran State Prison in Northern California. After he told authorities several years ago that he would prefer being housed with the general prison population, he was moved to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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