Death of Malcolm X: two men convicted of his murder will be exonerated

“These men did not have the right to the justice they deserved”, said to New York Times, Wednesday, November 17, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Rebound in the United States in the case of the assassination, in 1965, of the figure of the fight for the civil rights, Malcolm X. Two men, condemned in 1966 for his murder in New York, will be exonerated, made find out the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

According to the American newspaper, these two men are Muhammad A. Aziz, 83 years old and released from prison in 1985, and Khalil Islam, released after serving his sentence in 1987 and died in 2009. The Innocence Project, an organization that struggles against miscarriages of justice, for its part, announced that it would file, on Thursday, before the Supreme Court of New York, a “Joint file” with the prosecutor and the lawyers of the two men to obtain the annulment of these convictions. According to a source familiar with the matter, it is up to the Supreme Court to validate this request.

The prosecutor’s office also confirmed, without any further comment, that a press conference would be held on Thursday on the“Two wrongful convictions overturned for the murder of Malcolm X”.

Khalil Islam, second convicted of the 1965 murder of Malcolm X, who will be exonerated, as announced by the Manhattan prosecutor's office, on November 17, 2021.

Concealment of evidence

Both men were members at the time of « Nation of Islam », the movement of which Malcolm X was a figure and which he had just left against a backdrop of growing tensions. They had been sentenced with a third activist. Malcolm X had fallen, on February 21, 1965, under the bullets of several shooters during a speech at the Audubon Ballroom, a performance hall in Harlem.

His murder shook the United States, symbolizing the political and social tensions of the country in the 1960s, also marked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and that of another figure in the defense of civil rights, Martin Luther King, in 1968.

“The twenty-two-month investigation, conducted jointly by the prosecutor’s office and the two men’s lawyers, reveals that the prosecutors”, the FBI and the New York Police (NYPD) “Concealed crucial evidence which, if known, would probably have led to the acquittal of the two men”, still tells the New York Times.

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“Recognize the seriousness of this error”

In detail, the daily reports“A large number of FBI documents implicating other suspects” and “Notes from prosecutors showing that they failed to disclose the presence of undercover agents in the room at the time of the shooting”. Always according to the New York Times, a still living witness also confirmed to investigators the alibi of Muhammad Aziz, who claimed to be at his home at the time of the murder.

In February 2020, after the broadcast of a documentary on Netflix, entitled “Who Killed Malcolm X? “ (“Who killed Malcom X?”), Mr. Vance had asked his teams to re-examine the file. “What we can do is recognize this error, the seriousness of this error”, he added.

This judicial twist risks reinforcing the thesis of the disturbing role played by the FBI and the New York police at the time. In February 2021, a posthumous and accusatory letter from a police officer had been unveiled and the daughters of Malcolm X had already requested the reopening of the investigation. The policeman claimed to have approached, at the request of his hierarchy, the entourage of Malcolm X and to have trapped two of his bodyguards, arrested only a few days before the assassination, to weaken the security around the black leader.

The World with AFP

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Death of Malcolm X: two men convicted of his murder will be exonerated