Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X to have convictions quashed

, Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X to have convictions quashed, The Habari News

Two men found guilty of killing Malcolm X are to have their convictions thrown out, one of them posthumously, in an admission by US authorities of a historic miscarriage of justice.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance will hold a press conference on Thursday to announce the exoneration of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, who were sent to prison for the assassination in 1965.

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.

“These men did not get the justice that they deserved,” Mr Vance said in an interview with The New York Times. “What we can do is acknowledge the error, the severity of the error.”

The newspaper said that 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.

A third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim, 80, confessed to Malcolm X’s murder and was released from prison in 2010. Halim claimed during their 1966 trial that Aziz and Islam were innocent.

All three were members of the black nationalist group Nation of Islam, which Malcolm X had recently renounced.

, Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X to have convictions quashed, The Habari News


Muhammad Aziz was sentenced to life in prison in 1966


Credit: AP

The civil rights leader was shot dead by three gunmen on February 21, 1965 as he prepared to deliver a speech in a Manhattan ballroom.

Halim was taken into custody at the scene with a bullet wound to the leg.

, Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X to have convictions quashed, The Habari News

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 on 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 recognised,” he added.

, Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X to have convictions quashed, The Habari News


A mural of Malcolm X in the ballroom where he was shot. It became an educational centre in his name in 2005


Credit: AP

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 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 condoned 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.