By EUGENE BINGHAM
All charges have been dropped against two Afghans at the centre of a national security scare last year.
They are now considering claiming compensation over the way they were held in the maximum-security prison at Paremoremo.
Corrections Minister Matt Robson told the Weekend Herald he had ordered inquiries into the way the pair were dealt with, and that he was not satisfied that they had been treated properly.
"To me it was a lesson that we don't give way to hysteria."
The men, Mohammed Ismail and Abdul Maasud, were charged with making false statements on their refugee application forms when they were suddenly remanded in custody during what was supposed to be a routine appearance in the Auckland District Court in September.
A bail hearing the next day was closed to the public on the grounds of national security, and strict suppression orders were imposed.
But rather than being taken to the Auckland Central Remand Prison, the pair were taken to Paremoremo. The vehicle they travelled in was shadowed by the police helicopter.
Mr Robson started asking questions of his officials and was unhappy with their answers, so he ordered that the men be transferred back to Mt Eden.
When they appeared in court the following week, they were released on bail after police said the men were not a threat.
Mr Maasud, 42, and Mr Ismail, 30, were due to face trial on the fraud counts next month, but the charges have been thrown out.
Lawyer Rod Hooker said he was looking at whether the men would claim compensation from the Crown, "because somebody gave some wrong information to the judge".
Mr Robson said he could not comment on their compensation claim, but he gave an assurance that all records relating to the case would be made available for scrutiny, including the reports he had received.
He had asked officials why the pair where treated as high-risk inmates.
"The answer I received was not satisfactory ... Some official somewhere in the court system had said that these men were being charged with national security issues and that they were suspected of having contacts with the Taleban because they were Afghans."
By EUGENE BINGHAM
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