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Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 12:55 UK

Malcolm X gunman released on parole after 45 years

Thomas Hagan suffered a gunshot wound in the shooting
Thomas Hagan suffered a gunshot wound in the shooting

The only man to have admitted his role in the killing of controversial US black leader Malcolm X has been released from prison on parole.

Thomas Hagan, 69, was released from a New York jail 45 years after the assassination, officials confirmed.

Hagan said he was one of three men who shot Malcolm X as he began a speech at Harlem's Audubon Ballroom in 1965.

But he has insisted that the two men who were convicted with him were not involved.

They maintained their innocence and were paroled in the 1980s.

Hagan's release was announced by the New York State Department of Correctional Services on Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Linda Foglia said he was scheduled for release on Wednesday but the date was moved forward because the paperwork had been completed.

Hagan, who has repeatedly expressed regret for his actions, applied for parole 16 times before a board approved his request last month.

He had been allowed to spend five nights a week at his Brooklyn home on a work- release programme for the past 22 years.

'Murdered again'

Hagan's release from prison was greeted with anger from some.

Prof James Small, executive director of the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, said the state of New York had "murdered Malcolm again" in releasing Hagan.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

"He was caught with weapon in hand having participated in an assassination of one of the greatest African-American leaders we have ever had," Prof Small, who knew Malcolm X, told the BBC World Service.

Mr James said Hagan should have been executed or jailed for life.

But Sylvester Monroe, former senior editor of Ebony magazine, told the BBC that Hagan had admitted guilt and served his time.

He said many questions remained unanswered over Malcolm X's death, including determining else had been involved.

"We still don't know who put these people up this," he said.

In the 1960s, Hagan was a member of the militant Nation of Islam movement, in which Malcolm X was a major figure for some time.

Malcolm X rose to fame for his firebrand speeches in which he espoused black rights and denounced white people.

However, towards the end of his life he appeared to be taking a more conciliatory approach which made him enemies within the Nation of Islam.



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