The two men whose convictions for the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X were overturned last year will receive $36 million from the city and state of New York, their lawyer confirmed Sunday night.
“The tragedy of Malcolm X’s murder was felt all over the world, and compounded by the fact that it led to the convictions and imprisonment of two innocent, young, Black men in America,” their lawyer David Shanies said in an emailed statement to AFP.
The two men, Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, both spent over 20 years in prison for Malcolm X’s murder, which they always maintained they did not commit.
They were released in the mid-1980s, but it was not until November 2021 that their names were fully cleared by the New York State Supreme Court, which called their convictions almost a half-century ago “a failure of justice.”
“Today we acknowledge that injustice and take a modest step toward rectifying it,” said Shanies.
He confirmed a report from the New York Times that the city of New York will pay $26 million to be split between 84-year-old Aziz and the family of Islam, who died in 2009.
The state government of New York will also pay five million dollars each, for a total of $36 million in compensation.
For more than half a century the official record held that three members of the Black nationalist group Nation of Islam — which Malcolm X had recently renounced — shot the iconic leader when he arrived to speak at the podium of a Harlem ballroom.
Aziz, Islam and a third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim, were convicted in 1966 — but historians had long cast doubt on that thesis.
Halim — now 81 and released from prison in 2010 — confessed to the murder but maintained the innocence of the other two.