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NEW YORK (PIX11) — A man wrongfully convicted in the 1965 killing of Malcolm X filed a $40 million lawsuit against New York City

Muhammad Aziz, 84, called his conviction “the result of a process that was corrupt to its core — one that is all too familiar.” He was cleared in 2021 after an investigation that lasted nearly two years. The late Khalil Islam was also cleared in the investigation; the Shanies Law Office also filed a suit on behalf of Islam’s estate.

The suits are an important step in holding government officials accountable in the case, Deborah Francois, an attorney with the Shanies Law Office, said. She called for Mayor Eric Adams to “provide swift justice.”

“As someone who has fought for a fairer criminal justice system for my entire career, I believe the overturning of Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam’s convictions was the just outcome,” Adams said. “We are reviewing the lawsuit.”

Malcolm X rose to fame as the Nation of Islam’s chief spokesperson. About a year before his death, he split from the Nation of Islam and later made a pilgrimage to Mecca, returning with a new view of the potential for racial unity. Some in the Nation of Islam saw him as a traitor. At age 39, he was gunned down as he began a speech in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965.

Aziz, Islam and a third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim — also known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan — were convicted of murder in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison.

Hagan said he was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X, but he testified that neither Aziz nor Islam was involved. The two, then known as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, maintained throughout that they were innocent and offered alibis at their 1966 trial. No physical evidence linked them to the crime.

“Thomas 15 Johnson and Norman 3X Butler had nothing to do with this crime whatsoever,” Hagan said in a sworn statement in 1977.