2 men exonerated in 1965 murder of Malcolm X

Two men who were found guilty of assassinating the civil rights activist Malcolm X more than 50 years ago were exonerated on Thursday.

A court in New York dismissed the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, citing the findings of a reinvestigation that indicate the authorities at the time withheld some evidence.

Malcolm X was shot dead in 1965 while beginning a speech in New York.

Three men were charged with the murder. Aziz and Islam were sentenced to life in prison, but maintained their innocence. The third man, who admitted to the killing, said the other two were not involved. Islam died in 2009.

New York prosecutors opened a fresh investigation in January 2020. It found new evidence that indicated Aziz and Islam were not involved in the shooting.

Investigative authorities filed a motion to vacate the convictions.

The judge said on Thursday that she regrets that the court cannot give Aziz and Islam back the years that were lost. A district attorney apologized for the "serious, unacceptable violations of law and the public trust."

Aziz said the event that brought them to court should never have occurred. Applause broke out in the courtroom as the decision was announced.