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Judge frees men imprisoned for 24 years, saying prosecutors withheld evidence

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Three men freed after 34 years of wrongful incarcerationThree men convicted of murdering an off-duty police officer and a business owner nearly 25 years ago were released from prison Friday after a judge declared they were wrongfully convicted because evidence that may have exonerated them was "deliberately withheld" from their lawyers.

The arrests in 1996 of George Bell, Rohan Bolt and Gary Johnson were heralded by then-New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had vowed days before their apprehension that justice would be served swiftly, lawyers for the men say. But on Friday, Queens County Supreme Court Judge Joseph Zayas said the prosecutors who secured their convictions had suppressed information “that others may have committed these crimes.”

Speaking via video from Green Haven Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison north of New York City, the three men thanked those who worked to earn their freedom.

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