In November, two of the three men convicted in the killing of pivotal civil rights leader Malcolm X were exonerated. Now, Muhammad Aziz, one of the wrongfully accused is taking legal action. CNN reported Aziz, the 83-years-old has filed a lawsuit against New York State for $20 million claiming that a “serious miscarriages of justice” led to his wrongful conviction.
“As a result of his wrongful conviction and imprisonment, Mr. Aziz spent 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and more than 55 years living with the hardship and indignity attendant to being unjustly branded as a convicted murderer of one of the most important civil rights leaders in history,” the lawsuit stated.
Aziz was convicted of murder in the first degree in 1966 and remained in prison through 1985. The second man, Khalil Islam, who had their conviction overturned did not survive to see his name cleared. He was also convicted in 1966 and released in 1987. Islam died in 2009. The third man convicted, Mujahid Halim, was sentenced to life behind bars. During the trial, he testified he was responsible for the fatal shooting of Malcolm X and said, “neither of them had any involvement with the murder of Malcolm X,” according to the suit.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office began to review the case in 2020 although there had long been skepticism over the convictions. Lawyers found the evidence, including FBI documents, that could have resulted in Aziz and Islam being found innocent. However, at the time, it was “withheld from both defense and prosecution.”
Vance issued an apology as Aziz and Islam had their convictions overturned.
“I apologize on behalf of our nation’s law enforcement for this decades-long injustice, which has eroded public faith in institutions that are designed to guarantee the equal protection of the law,” Vance said in November. “We can’t restore what was taken from these men and their families, but by correcting the record, perhaps we can begin to restore that faith.”