WASHINGTON (Jan. 27)
Defense lawyers for Sirhan B. Sirhan, accused assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, are pondering how far to push the ‘Zionist” angle in the trial of the 24-year-old immigrant from Jordan, Washington Post correspondent George Lardner, Jr., reported from Los Angeles today. “So far the lawyers have said they intend to make Sirhan’s experiences as a youth in Palestine a key issue in their effort to save Sirhan from the gas chamber.” Mr. Lardner wrote.
“They plan to argue that the young Jordanian immigrant was so scarred and so obsessed by the Arab-Israeli conflict that he was incapable of premeditated, first degree murder when he shot down Sen. Kennedy.” Mr. Lardner said. He noted further that “not a few Arabs and Arab-Americans have expressed the view that the trial would be an ideal forum for ‘the Arab position’ in the Middle East.” One of these is Mrs. Mary Sirhan, the defendant’s mother.
Mr. Lardner said that Sirhan’s defense lawyers, among them Emile Zola Berman, who is Jewish, “insist they will be able to stop short of trying the rights and wrongs of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Chief defense counsel Grant B. Cooper has said, “It might never become an issue” in the case. “Mary Sirhan caught him during a recess. ‘Don’t say it won’t become an issue,’ she is said to have told him. ‘It has to be,’” Mr. Lardner reported.