two men convicted of her murder were acquitted

A rebound in the United States in the 1965 murder of civil rights figure Malcolm X. Two men convicted in 1966 of his murder in New York were acquitted on Thursday, November 18 by a judge. Ellen Beeben.

To applause from the New York Supreme Court courtroom, Biben called it“denial of justice” more than half a century ago, Muhammad Aziz, aka Norman 3X Butler, now 83 and present in court, was released from prison in 1985, and Khalil Islam, aka Thomas 15X Johnson, who was released in 1987 and died in 2009 year. .

She legally exonerated both men after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and the defense filed a motion for dismissal. The New York Attorney, who will leave his post at the end of the year, presented “apologies” US judiciary for “decades of injustice” as well as “unacceptable violations of the law and public trust”. On Wednesday he said New York Times : “These people didn’t get the justice they deserved. »

Khalil Islam, convicted for the second time for the murder of Malcolm X in New York in March 1965.

Thus, Mr. Vance, a team of attorneys for two ex-convicts, and the Innocence Project, an organization that fights miscarriages of justice, in a rare alliance, filed a motion for annulment in the New York State Supreme Court. “All this should never have happened. These facts were and are the result of a corrupt process to the core that remains all too familiar even in 2021.”, Muhammad Aziz reacted in a statement sent by his lawyers. He has always maintained his innocence.

Hiding Evidence

The two men were members during the time of the Nation of Islam, a movement of which Malcolm X was a figure and which he had just left when tensions escalated there. They were convicted along with a third activist, Thomas Hagan, who admitted his involvement in the murder. Malcolm X fell on February 21, 1965, to the bullets of several gunmen while performing at the Audubon Ballroom, a concert hall in Harlem.

His assassination shocked the United States, symbolizing the country’s political and social conflicts in the 1960s, also marked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the assassination of another civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, in 1968.

Before the Supreme Court, Cyrus Vance testified “many rooms” than his predecessors “didn’t exist in 1965”out of which “FBI Reports Witnesses” with other suspects. His team also heard a new witness, an 80-year-old man living in Brooklyn, who provided a credible alibi for Muhammad Aziz, alleging that he telephoned his home immediately after the murder.

Those “important parts”according to New York Timesif they were known, it would probably lead to the acquittal of the two men.”

Mr. Vance also said that the FBI ordered, “to order” his all-powerful then-boss Edgar Hoover, numerous witnesses so that they would not reveal to the police or prosecutors that they were in fact police informants.

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“Recognize the seriousness of this mistake”

Detailed daily reports“large number of FBI documents relating to other suspects” as well as “memos from prosecutors showing they failed to report the presence of undercover agents in the room at the time of the shooting”. Always according New York Timesa living witness also confirmed to the investigators the alibi of Muhammad Aziz, who claimed that he was at home at the time of the murder.

In February 2020, after the release on Netflix of a documentary titled Who killed Malcolm X? (“Who killed Malcolm X?”), Mr. Vance asked his team to re-examine the file. “What we can do is acknowledge this mistake, the seriousness of this mistake”he added.

This judicial twist may reinforce the thesis about the troubling role of the FBI and the NYPD at the time. In February 2021, a posthumous and incriminating letter from a police officer was made public, and Malcolm X’s daughters have already demanded that the investigation be reopened. The cop claimed that at the request of his hierarchy, he approached Malcolm X’s entourage and that he trapped two of his bodyguards, who had been arrested just days before the assassination, to weaken the guard around the black leader.

Peace with AFP

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