Lawyer David Shanies, defender of Muhammad Aziz, 84, and the family of Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, confirmed Sunday evening in an email to AFP that an "injustice (had been) recognized today and a modest step taken to correct it".
Asked by the New York Times, the legal department of New York City Hall had earlier revealed a financial compensation agreement with "Mrs. Aziz and Islam unjustly convicted of this crime": the murder of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965 at the gallery of the Audubon Ballroom, a performance hall in Harlem, a neighborhood in northern Manhattan.
The two men, members of Malcolm X's "Nation of Islam" movement, had been sentenced in 1966 to heavy prison terms and had spent 42 years between them behind bars - about 20 years each - for a murder they had never committed.
- Spectacular turn of events -
But on November 19, in a historic judicial coup, the New York State Supreme Court cleared them.
Justice had even recognized its "failure" by having imprisoned two innocent people for the assassination of the icon of the cause of black people in the 1960s in the United States.
The disappearance of Malcolm X was a thunderclap in the painful history of African Americans. A "tragedy (...) felt around the world and aggravated by the fact that it led to the conviction and imprisonment of two young, innocent black men in America", denounced the lawyer David Shanies.
He confirmed the New York Times figures: $26 million from New York City and $10 million from New York State.
Muhammad Aziz, released in 1985, and Khalil Islam, released in 1987 and died in 2009 at the age of 74, have always maintained their innocence.
The third convict, Mujahid Abdul Halim, admitted to him at the time having shot Malcolm X, and had exonerated his two co-defendants, but in vain.
Until New York justice reopens the case in 2020.
- Documentary Netflix -
It was indeed necessary to wait for the broadcast in February 2020 of a documentary on Netflix (“Who Killed Malcolm X?”), renewing doubts about the presence of MM. Aziz and Islam at the scene of the assassination.
After months of a retrial, then-Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance teamed up with the two men's attorneys and an organization, The Innocence Project, which fights against miscarriages of justice, to file a a motion to vacate in the New York Supreme Court.
And last November, live on television and to applause, Prosecutor Vance presented the "apologies" of the American judicial authorities for "decades of injustice" and "unacceptable violations of the law and of the trust of the public". 'public opinion".
Before the court, he had "recognized the seriousness of this error" judicial, without expanding on the rumors concerning the troubled role played at the time by the federal police (FBI) and that of New York.
- Malcolm X threatened -
At the time of his assassination, Malcolm X, 39, a radical figure in the African-American cause, accused by his detractors of calling for violence and separatism, had left "Nation of Islam" and made a more consensual turn.
He had then been threatened by members of his former movement and his home in New York had been the target of an attack a few days earlier.
The Netflix documentary is based on the thesis of a non-professional historian from Washington, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, defending the innocence of MM. Aziz and Islam and that the third convict, who had admitted the facts, had acted with four other members of the "Nation of Islam" from a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, near New York.
The murder of Malcom X had shaken the United States, in full political and social tensions in the 1960s, marked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and that in 1968 of the figure of civil rights, Martin Luther King .