Justice Nixes New Malcolm X Murder Probe

The government says that too much time has passed to reopen the investigation.

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The best-selling and controversial biography of Malcolm X by the late Manning Marable renewed long-standing questions about whether the right men were convicted of the murder of the civil rights leader in 1965. But those who hoped for a new probe were sorely disappointed Saturday when a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department said that the government had no intention of reopening the investigation. The spokesman said the statute of limitations had expired on the federal laws that might apply to the case, according to the New York Times.

Historians have long viewed the assassination as unsolved, as The Times reported Saturday. Several experts have argued that the Justice Department could take up the case under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, but the department, without elaborating, said the crime did not fit the parameters of that act.

Alvin Sykes, an advocate for justice in civil rights-era cold cases, has suggested that the department has the discretion to investigate even if no prosecution is possible, an authority that has been used in the past to examine the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But Malcolm X, the department said, does not rate similar treatment.

“Although the Justice Department recognizes that the murder of Malcolm X was a tragedy, both for his family and for the community he served, we have determined that at this time, the matter does not implicate federal interests sufficient to necessitate the use of scarce federal investigative resources into a matter for which there can be no federal criminal prosecution,” the department said.

The decision is a disappointment to Malcolm X buffs, who strongly believe that federal and city law-enforcement officials knew that Malcolm's life was in danger and did nothing to stop his killing. From the time he was gunned down in the Audubon Ballroom in 1965, they have questioned the vigorousness and sincerity of the murder investigation. This will do little to dampen speculation about what really happened.

Read the New York Times story on the decision here.

Read the earlier New York Times article about the pressure for a new probe here.

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