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2 Men Guilty Of Activist Malcolm X Murder To Be Exonerated After 56 Years.

2 Men Guilty Of Activist Malcolm X Murder To Be Exonerated After 56 Years

All three men were convicted in 1966 -- but historians have long cast doubt on that thesis.

New York:

Manhattan's district attorney on Thursday is set to request the exoneration of two men found guilty of the 1965 assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X, a remarkable turnabout that admits the prosecution of one of America's most high-profile murders resulted in a grave miscarriage of justice.

For more than half-a-century the official record has held that three members of the Black nationalist group Nation of Islam -- which the influential Malcolm X had recently renounced -- shot the iconic civil rights leader when he arrived to speak at the podium of a Harlem ballroom.

All three men were convicted in 1966 -- but historians have long cast doubt on that thesis.

And now a 22-month investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan district attorney's office and lawyers for the two men found that prosecutors, the FBI and the New York Police Department withheld evidence that would likely have led to the acquittal of the two men.

One of the men, Mujahid Abdul Halim -- now 80 and released from prison in 2010 -- confessed to the murder but maintained the innocence of the other two, Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil Islam.

Aziz, 83, was sentenced to life in prison in 1966 but was released in 1985. Also sentenced to life, Islam was released in 1987 and died in 2009.

On Thursday Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will ask a New York judge to vacate the convictions.

"These men did not get the justice that they deserved," Vance said in an interview with The New York Times.

"What we can do is acknowledge the error, the severity of the error."

- 'Corrupt to its core' -

After Malcolm X was shot dead on February 21, 1965, Halim was taken into custody at the scene with a bullet wound to the leg.

Aziz and Islam were arrested several days later. Both denied involvement in the assassination and provided alibis for where they were at the time of the shooting.

Aziz said in a statement Wednesday that "the events that brought us here should never have occurred; those events were and are the result of a process that was corrupt to its core -- one that is all too familiar -- even in 2021."

"While I do not need a court, prosecutors, or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent, I am glad that my family, my friends, and the attorneys who have worked and supported me all these years are finally seeing the truth we have all known, officially recognized," he added.

Following the expected exonerations Vance will hold a press conference that will also be attended by civil rights attorney David Shanies and Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project.

Shanies and the Innocence Project, a nonprofit which has secured the exoneration of hundreds of wrongfully convicted prisoners in the United States, collaborated with Vance's office in re-investigating the case.

The review of the case followed the release of a Netflix docuseries "Who Killed Malcolm X?"

- Lingering questions -

The wrongful convictions mean the true perpetrators -- who are believed to be dead -- will never be held accountable for killing one of the US civil rights movement's most towering figures, whose words and teachings still underpin today's struggles for Black rights and social justice.

According to The New York Times the lengthy investigation did not identify the assassins or offer an alternative explanation of the murder.

And some of the largest questions surrounding the case remain, namely how did US intelligence, which had long surveilled Malcolm X, not know the leader was under threat or do anything about it?

True rectification of the case grows more unlikely by the year, as many of those involved are long dead.

Considered one of the most influential African Americans of the 20th century along with Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X was an outspoken advocate of Black rights.

Born Malcolm Little in 1925, he fell into petty crime as a young man and became a devout follower of Islam while in prison.

Upon his release, he changed his surname to "X" as a symbol of the original name of his family lost under slavery.

He rose to prominence as a minister and spokesman for the Nation of Islam, advocating Black self-dependence and esteem. He also did not shy away from the use of violence for self-protection.

Disillusioned with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X broke away from the group in 1964 and formed the short-lived Organization of Afro-American Unity to continue the promotion of Black rights.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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