LONDON -- A British television documentary broadcast Tuesday night presented allegations that three Corsican mafia hitmen hired by American mobsters carried out the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
A killer called Lucien Sarti -- and not Lee Harvey Oswald -- was named by the documentary as the assassin who fired the fatal shot 25 years ago.
The two-hour program 'The Men Who Killed Kennedy' was produced by Central Television, one of Britain's regional commercial TV companies.
It presented statements from some witnesses and investigators who said they believed there was a high-level conspiracy to cover up the facts of the assassination.
The theory about the Corsican mob hitmen was originated by an American writer Steve Rivele, who has spent four years investigating the assassination.
Rivele said he orginally obtained the information from a French criminal figure named Christian David who is currently held in France on a 1960s murder charge.
Rivele said David's 'position was that the three killers were all Corsican mafia from Marseille.'
Rivele said Sarti, who was himself killed in Mexico in 1972, was part of a three-man team hired by organized crime figures in the United States to carry out the killing in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. The two accomplices are said to be still alive.
The program argued that the American mob, the target of a crackdown by the Kennedy administration, chose the Frenchmen because of their lack of connections with it.
According to the theory advanced by the documentary, Sarti was standing on the famed 'grassy knoll' 50 yards away from the passing president's motorcade disguised as a police officer when he fired a fatal rifle shot into Kennedy's head. The other two men were said to have fired from other positions.
The program showed film footage of the assassination that it said illustrates that the fatal shot was fired from in front of Kennedy's limousine. That contradicts findings in the Warren Commission's official report on the murder that Oswald alone fired three shots from an upper floor of the Texas Book Depository, striking Kennedy in the back of the head.
One key piece of evidence offered by the program was a photograph taken at the moment of the assassination by a woman bystander. Two men who have studied the photo for years said that when the photo is blown up and enhanced it reveals a figure in a police uniform standing on the grassy knoll area where some witnesses over the years have claimed they saw gunfire.
Gordon Arnold, who said he was filming from the knoll at the time, told the program 'a shot came right past my left ear.' He said immediately after that, a man kicked him and took away his film.
The program also presented evidence that it said showed that official autopsy photos of Kennedy were faked in order to show a small neat wound when in fact 20 to 25 percent of his brain had been blown away.
Central Television said in a statement at the start of the documentary 'the film you are about to see is the most credible explanation' of the Kennedy assassination.