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Two Men Convicted Of Assassinating Malcolm X Are Set To Be Exonerated

Rebecca Shepherd

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| Last updated 

Two Men Convicted Of Assassinating Malcolm X Are Set To Be Exonerated

Featured Image Credit: Album/Alamy Stock Photo

Two men convicted of assassinating Malcolm X are set to be exonerated.

Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam are due to have their names cleared following almost two years of investigations that have been carried out by their lawyers and the Manhattan district attorney's office.

According to The New York Times, prosecutors are now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader's killing.

Malcolm X. Credit: Granger Historical Picture Archive
Malcolm X. Credit: Granger Historical Picture Archive

A court date is expected on Thursday and the District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. told the newspaper: "These men did not get the justice that they deserved."

Vance tweeted that his office, alongside the Innocence Project and a law firm would make steps to vacate the convictions. More details about this are expected on Thursday.

Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist who became the Nation of Islam's chief spokesperson. He proclaimed the Black Muslim organisation's message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualisation.

He was assassinated as he began a speech in Harlem's Audubon Ballroom on 21 February 1965.

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Credit: GL Archive/Alamy Stock Photo
Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Credit: GL Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

Those charged with the killing included Aziz, Islam and a third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim - who was known at the time of the murder as Talmadge Hayer and then later as Thomas Hagan. They were convicted of murder a year later in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison.

Hagan, who was a member of the Nation of Islam, admitted that he was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X, but also maintained sure that neither Aziz nor Islam were involved in the assassination.

In a 1977 affidavit, Hagan said that he planned the killing with four others to seek revenge for Malcolm X's public criticism of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.

Aziz and Islam, who were known as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, maintained their innocence.

According to The New York Times article, the re-investigation found the FBI had documents that pointed to other suspects, and a witness was able to support the alibi Aziz offered since his trial - which seemingly confirms that he was at home with a leg injury when the shooting occurred.

Credit: GL Archive/Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: GL Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

The review is also said to have found that prosecutors were aware of, but didn't disclose, that undercover officers were in the ballroom when the shooting took place, and police knew that someone had called the Daily News of New York earlier that day saying that Malcolm X would be killed.

Deborah Francois, a lawyer for Aziz and Islam, told The New York Times: "This wasn't a mere oversight. This was a product of extreme and gross official misconduct."

Aziz was released in 1985 and is now 83 years old. Islam was released two years later in 1987 and died in 2009.

Topics: News

Rebecca Shepherd
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