LOS ANGELES (Nov. 2) – An attorney for the man who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy said Monday his client was transferred from a prison that houses high-risk offenders to a new facility where his life could be in danger.
Attorney William F. Pepper said Sirhan Sirhan opposed the move from the state prison in Corcoran, which houses high-risk prisoners such as Charles Manson, to Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga.
“Our main concern is for his safety,” said Laurie Dusek, an associate of Pepper. “We are not sure that Pleasant Valley has the ability to protect him. He is a target.”
Pepper said he has new evidence and wants to reopen Sirhan’s case.
Oscar Hidalgo, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Sirhan had requested the transfer and wants to stay in Pleasant Valley.
“After discussing his hesitation with prison officials at Pleasant Valley, Sirhan Sirhan indicated he wanted to stay at the new facility after all,” Hidalgo said. “He can indicate if he feels unsafe at any point and the department will respond appropriately.”
Sirhan is serving a life sentence for the 1968 killing of Kennedy. He had been housed for years in the protective unit at Corcoran, one of the most isolated units in the state prison system.
Pepper said neither he nor Sirhan had requested the move and neither had received notice until Sirhan was actually moved last Thursday.
Hidalgo countered in a written statement that the move followed numerous requests by Sirhan to be transferred from Corcoran.
“His movements there have been extremely controlled and his exposure to others extremely limited,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said Sirhan’s lawyers were notified of the move, but both Pepper and Dusek said in telephone interviews they were not told of the transfer.
Dusek said she had contacted prison officials, checking on a report from Sirhan’s brother that he might be moved. Authorities denied any knowledge of such a change, she said.
Munir Sirhan confirmed in a phone interview that he had notified the lawyer about the transfer.
Pepper said he wrote to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger protesting the move. The governor’s office said it had not received any communication on the matter.