A man wrongfully convicted of murdering the civil rights leader Malcolm X has filed a lawsuit seeking $40 million (£33 million) in compensation.
Muhammad Aziz spent 20 years in prison for the killing before being released on parole in 1985.
But in 2021, prosecutors moved to vacate his conviction, citing “newly discovered evidence”.
Mr Aziz, 84, is suing for malicious prosecution, denial of due process rights and government misconduct.
A US navy veteran, Mr Aziz was a 26-year-old father of six when he was arrested for the 1965 murder of Malcolm X at the Audubon Ballroom in New York. The civil rights leader was shot by three gunmen while preparing to address a feverish crowd.
Mr Aziz was arrested alongside Khalil Islam, who passed away in 2009. Mr Islam served 22 years in prison before his release.
Both men were members of the Nation of Islam, the religious movement that X split from in 1964. They were convicted despite a lack of physical evidence, conflicting statements from prosecution witnesses and a third man’s testimony that he had taken part in the attack and the other two were innocent.
Talmadge Hayer – the confessed assassin of Malcom X who was caught at the scene – testified at trial that Mr Aziz and Mr Islam were not involved in the killing.
In the late 1970s, Hayer signed an affidavit naming four other men who he said were involved in the murder.
A review of the convictions was launched in 2020, after prosecutors met representatives of the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal group campaigning for individuals it believes to have been wrongfully convicted.
“Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for decades – 42 years between them – as the result of outrageous government misconduct and violations of their constitutional rights,” said David Shanies, an attorney who represents the men’s estates.
“Justice delayed for far too long is justice denied. Mr Aziz just turned 84, and Mr Islam tragically died before seeing his name cleared.”
Last year, Malcolm X’s daughters requested that the murder investigation be reopened in light of new evidence.
They cited a deathbed letter from a man who was a policeman at the time of the 1965 killing, alleging that New York police and the FBI conspired in the murder.
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