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Two Men Convicted of Malcolm X Assassination Set to be Exonerated

FILE - Norman 3X Butler, 26, a suspect in the slaying of Malcolm X, is escorted by detectives at police headquarters, after his arrest, in New York, Feb. 26, 1965.

Two men who spent decades in prison for the 1965 assassination of Muslim minister and civil rights activist Malcolm X are set to be exonerated, according to news reports Wednesday.

Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, members of the Nation of Islam in 1965 who went by the names Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, respectively, were convicted of shooting Malcolm X, as he began a speech in Harlem's Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965.

The men maintained their innocence and were expected to be officially exonerated this week after a recent 22-month investigation.

"These men did not get the justice that they deserved," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. told The New York Times, adding that the full exoneration would likely be official on Thursday.

Islam was released from prison in 1987 and died in 2009, while Aziz was released in 1985.

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, advocated Black self-determination and rejected integration, putting him at odds with other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr.

For 12 years, he was the spokesman for the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim religious and political organization that he broke from shortly before his death.

It remains unclear who killed Malcolm X.

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press.