This is the official version of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, as put forward by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the LA District Attourney's office (LADA).
 
On 5th June 1968, 12.15am, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was making his way from the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, to give a press conference, after winning the California Primary. The prearranged route went through a food service pantry. While making his way through this area, a Palastinian Arab, Sirhan Sirhan, stepped forward and fired a .22 revolver at the Senator. Although Sirhan was quickly subdued, Kennedy and five others were wounded, although only Kennedy was fatally wounded. Sirhan was arrested at the scene, charged and convicted of first degree murder. He was to have been executed, but the U.S. Supreme Court voided the constitutionality of the death sentence before the sentence could be carried out. Sirhan has been incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, California, since then. Under Californian law, he should have been automatically scheduled for release in 1984, but this was not the case.
 
The Complications
 
The problem with this scenario is that the physical evidence and eyewitness reports would seem to show that Sirhan was incapable of inflicting the wounds attributed to him.
 
The autopsy carried out by Coroner Thomas Noguchi showed that Senator Kennedy had been shot three times. One shot entered the head behind the right ear, a second shot near the right armpit and a third roughly one and a half inches below the second. All shots entered the body at a sharply upward angle, moving slightly right to left. These shots are incompatible with eyewitness reports of the shooting. Sirhan had no access to the Senator's rear, and Kennedy never turned more than sideways to Sirhan. In addition, Sirhan fired with his arm parallel to the floor, i.e. straight ahead. Maitre d' Karl Uecker, who had been leading Kennedy forward by the right hand at the time the shooting started, grappled Sirhan after his second shot and pushed the gun away. All these points, as well as the fact that the gun was one and a half to six feet from Kennedy, prove that Sirhan could not have inflicted the fatal wounds to the Senator.
 
Sirhan's .22 revolver contained eight bullets and he had no chance to reload. This caused a problem for the official version of the assassination as all bullets had been accounted for, except for one which was lost in the ceiling space. Reports indicated that a wooden door jamb contained two bullets. This frame and as many as five or six ceiling tiles were removed from the crime scene for tests. Photographs of the crime scene show at least this many tiles missing and more besides. Los Angeles Police Department criminologist DeWayne Wolfer was quoted as saying &quotit's unbelievable how many holes there are in the kitchen ceiling." This suggests that LAPD found more bullets (or traces of bullets) than could be accounted for by Sirhan's eight shot revolver, at least seven and probably more.
 
As well as the problems noted above, there are the reports of suspicious people in the area at the time of the assassination. The first policeman on the scene, Sergeant Paul Schraga, was approached by a couple who told him that they had encountered a young man and woman fleeing the Ambassador Hotel shouting &quotWe shot him! We shot him." When asked who they had shot, the young woman joyously replied, &quotSenator Kennedy." Schraga sent out an All Points Bulletin on the two suspects. This was the start of the &quotPolka-dot Dress Girl" controversy. In one of the most intuitive pieces of police deduction since the JFK assassination, LAPD declared that Sirhan was the sole assassin within minutes of the crime. Schraga was asked to cancel his APB, and when he refused, it was canceled by his superiors.
 
The couple's story was explained by the LAPD as a case of mishearing, stating that the young woman must have said &quotThey shot him!" However, a young woman sitting on a staircase outside the Ambassador Hotel, Sandra Serrano, corroborated the couple's story.
 
Two witnesses in the pantry also saw armed men, aside from Sirhan and security guard Thane Eugene Cesar. Lisa Urso noticed a blond haired man in a grey suit putting a gun into a holster. A second, unnamed, witness saw a tall, dark-haired man, wearing a black suit, fire two shots and run out of the pantry.
 
The Cover-up
 
In 1968 it was not a federal offence to murder a presidential candidate. The case, therefore, came under LAPD juristriction. The investigation was based on the wish of Police Chief Ed Davis that it would not be &quotanother Dallas." Whether this meant an intense, professional investigation or a tighter cover-up is debatable.
 
As the case was the responsibility of the LAPD, there was no pressure to release their findings, the &quotSummary Report". Researchers into the RFK Assassination finally forced the Report and the LAPD's files to be released, in 1988. Compare this to 1964 for the Warren Commission Report (the year after JFK's assassination) and it becomes obvious why the official version of the assassination has been unchallenged, despite the obvious complications.
 
After the release of the files, it became clear to what extent the cover-up had been carried out. Evidence which contradicted the official version was destroyed. The more extreme acts of destruction included:
2,400 photographs burned because they were &quotduplicates." In fact, there were no lists precise enough to show that all the photos destroyed were indeed duplicates.
Ceiling tiles and the door frame from the pantry destroyed, because, according to then Assistant Chief Daryl Gates, they wouldn't fit into card files.
In addition, LAPD records showed that they had recorded 3,470 interviews during the course of the investigation. Only 301 interviews were released. Examination by researchers showed that for 51 key &quotconspiracy" witnesses, there were no interviews.
 
The LAPD were not alone in conducting this cover-up. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office was also involved. The scope of this involvement was seen in the files released to researchers in 1985, due mainly to the inclusion of a box of tapes, videos and documents sent from the LADA branch at Van Nuys. This box contained evidence which went against the official version. The most graphic examples were the video reconstructions from 1968 and 1977, which prove that Sirhan could not have inflicted the wounds on Senator Kennedy. However, by using selected stills from the reconstructions, the official version was supported.
 
The coverup of the RFK assassination has been maintained because the facts are simply not known. Whereas the Warren Commission report was released the year following the JFK assassination, LAPD's &quotSummary Report" was not released until 1986. The files were released two years later. Both of these achievements were made despite strong LAPD/LADA resistance, for obvious reasons.
 
The RFK assassination was not investigated in by the House Select Commitee on Assassinations because of the seemingly open and shut nature of the case. Now that the facts are known, perhaps it is time that the RFK assassination was investigated. While the JFK assassination has reached the point where the answer is &quotOswald might have done it or he might not have", there is no possible way that Sirhan could have inflicted the wounds on Senator Kennedy. All that is required is the official investigation.
 
BOOK RECOMMENDATION:  Melanson, Philip H. The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: New Revelations on the Conspiracy and Cover-Up, 1968-1991. New York: Shapolsky Publishers, 1991. 362 pages. 
 
There are more than thirty JFK assassination books for every book on the RFK assassination, but in some respects the implications of the latter are more alarming. Philip Melanson, a professor of political science at Southeastern Massachusetts University and director of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archives, has made an outstanding contribution on this difficult subject.
 
The problems with the official version can be summed up in several points: 1) More bullets were recovered than could fit in Sirhan's gun; 2) Nitrite deposits and powder burns indicate that shots were fired at point- blank range, but witnesses are consistent that Sirhan's gun was never closer than two or three feet; 3) Sirhan was seen before the shooting with an associate or handler who has never been found; 4) Evidence suggests that he was in a hypnotic trance during the shooting; 5) The LAPD suppressed or destroyed evidence, and intimidated witnesses who contradicted the official line. The "robot assassin" angle in this assassination seemed incredible in 1968, but since then we have learned much more about the CIA's long history of research into mind-control. It's no longer easy to dismiss such a possibility, nor is it easy to accept it.