Conspiracy theories around assassinations that didnt add up, from JFK to Gandhi

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    This week marks 60 years since US President John F. Kennedy was shockingly assassinated while travelling in an open-top limousine.

    Despite the conspiracy theories, the official verdict was that one man – Lee Harvey Oswald – was his killer, firing deadly shots from his rifle at Kennedy’s motorcade while concealed in an overlooking book depository building in Dallas, Texas.

    But what happened to him afterwards – and what about the fate of other assassins responsible for some of history’s most notorious political murders? Here James Moore reveals all…

    READ MORE: Secret Service agent behind JFK as 'head exploded' lifts lid on new 'two shooter' theory

    To read more murder related stories from the Daily Star, click here

    The ‘lone Gunman’

    At 12.30pm on November 22, 1963, ex-US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from a sixth-floor window at President Kennedy’s car passed through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza.

    Two bullets are alleged to have hit Kennedy, killing him as he sat next to his wife Jackie.

    Fleeing the scene Oswald, who had lived in the Soviet Union, also killed a local police officer who challenged him, before finally being arrested in a cinema.

    The 24-year-old was himself shot dead at the local police HQ two days later by nightclub boss Jack Ruby. Oswald had claimed to be a ‘patsy’. However, despite multiple conspiracy theories, official investigations have pointed to him acting alone.

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    Theatre Shooter

    In the dying days of the American Civil War, actor John Wilkes Booth, a fan of slavery and the losing Confederate south, murdered President Abraham Lincoln, leader of the victorious Union.

    On the evening of April 14, 1865, Booth shot the iconic leader in the back of the head with a pistol while he and his wife were watching a play from a box at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC.

    Booth then jumped on to the stage and fled shouting, “The South is avenged!”

    But, on April 26, he was tracked by soldiers to a hideout in a Virginia farm barn. There the 26-year-old refused to surrender. The barn was set on fire by the troops and Booth eventually shot dead.

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    Ice Pick Hitman

    After losing a power struggle with Joseph Stalin, Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, 60, escaped to live in exile in Mexico.

    But on August 20, 1940, Soviet agent Ramon Mercader, posing as fan Frank Jacson, talked his way into Trotsky’s study, then bludgeoned him with an ice axe, leaving his victim mortally wounded.

    Spanish-born Mercader was quickly arrested and imprisoned for nearly 20 years. On release, he moved to Cuba and was later decorated Hero of the Soviet Union by the head of the KGB.

    The married father-of-three died at 65 and is buried in Moscow.

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    World War Firestarter

    Bosnian Serb student Gavrilo Princip shot dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, with a pistol as they stopped in an open top carriage while travelling through Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

    Trained by The Black Hand terror group the sickly 19-year-old wanted a free Yugoslavia.

    But his actions in killing the heir to their Austro-Hungarian throne would start a chain of events leading to World War One.

    Wrestled to the ground at the scene and failing to kill himself with a cyanide capsule, he was given 20 years in prison instead of the death penalty because of his age.

    But the peasant’s son had tuberculosis. It caused him to lose an arm and then die in jail, at 23 in 1918.

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    Gandhi’s Murderer

    By the time Mahatma Gandhi, who had led nonviolent resistance to British rule in India, was shot dead, his nation had already gained its independence.

    But on January 30, 1948, Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse fired three bullets into the chest of the iconic 78-year-old leader at a prayer meeting in New Delhi. He believed Gandhi had been too supportive of India’s Muslims during the partition of the country into India and Pakistan.

    Restrained by an American diplomat, Godse, 39 – who had conspired with others to commit the murder – was sentenced to death and executed in 1949 despite calls for clemency from Gandhi’s sons.

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    Prime Suspect

    The only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated is Spencer Perceval – gunned down in the lobby of the House of Commons on May 11, 1812 crying: “I am murdered!”

    There was little trouble in catching his killer, John Bellingham. After shooting the 39-year-old PM in the chest, the merchant calmly sat down on a bench awaiting arrest.

    Bellingham was annoyed with the British government’s lack of financial compensation over an unjust imprisonment in Russia.

    Evidence that the married 42-year-old was insane was thrown out at his trial and Bellingham was executed by public hanging a week later.

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    King Killer

    It was at London’s Heathrow airport that James Earl Ray, the man who allegedly shot famous US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr was snared trying to travel on a false passport.

    The American ex-robber had fled to Canada and then Britain after killing King as he stood on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, with a single rifle shot to the head.

    Ray later pleaded guilty to the crime and in 1969 was sentenced to 99 years in jail, but later claimed to be innocent, sparking claims of a conspiracy. Ray died in 1998, behind bars, aged 70.

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    Sibling Slayer

    JFK’s younger brother Robert F. Kennedy was slain, as he campaigned to become US President on June 5, 1968, by 24-year-old Palestinian extremist Sirhan Sirhan.

    The 42-year-old was shot three times in the kitchen of a Los Angeles hotel, after an address there and died the following day.

    Sirhan was seized, convicted of RFK’s murder in 1969 and sentenced to death – later committed to life in prison.

    Now 79, he claims to have no memory of the crime and that he may have been hypnotized into carrying out the murder as part of a conspiracy. His multiple attempts to get parole have been denied.

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    • Murder
    • Crime
    • Shooting
    • JFK
    • Fire
    • Russia
    • London

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