LOS ANGELES, Feb 11 — Authorities yesterday denied parole for the 15th time to Sirhan Sirhan, the man behind the 1968 assassination of US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

The 71-year-old Palestinian appeared before the California parole panel for about three hours, saying he could not recall the shooting that took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after Kennedy had won the California presidential primary.

Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence, told the panel that he had had too much to drink that night and wished “this whole thing had never taken place,” ABC news reported.

“If you want a confession, I can’t make it now,” Sirhan said.

“Legally speaking, I’m not guilty of anything. ... It’s not that I’m making light of it. I’m responsible for being there.”

He added that incriminating statements he made during his trial were the result of a bad defense attorney who convinced him he was guilty.

Paul Schrade, 91, a Kennedy family friend and one of five people injured in the shooting, testified yesterday that while he believes Sirhan shot him, a second shooter was responsible for Kennedy’s death.

Members of the parole panel, however, were not convinced and said Sirhan did not show remorse for his actions.

“This crime impacted the nation, and I daresay it impacted the world,” commissioner Brian Roberts said.

“It was a political assassination of a viable Democratic presidential candidate.”

Sirhan was initially sentenced to death in 1969 but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972.

He will be eligible for another parole hearing in five years. — AFP