Four men accused of murdering a fellow inmate at New Zealand's only maximum security prison will keep their names hidden - for now.
Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, all members of the group appeared by audio-visual link (AVL) before Justice Simon Moore this morning in the High Court at Auckland.
All four men, a 39-year-old, a 23-year-old and two 20-year-olds, are charged with murdering Blake John Lee, who died at Auckland Prison in Paremoremo on March 5.
One of the accused was wearing a facemask. Justice reform advocates have expressed concerns in recent days about the spread of Covid-19 amongst the prison population.
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After granting all four accused interim name suppression, Justice Moore remanded the men in custody until a trial date of May 24 next year.
If New Zealand remains at alert level 4 or level 3 by June, an administrative hearing that month will also be held via AVL and telephone, Justice Moore said.
Lee was behind bars at the time of his death for an attack on his partner, which occurred as he held her captive at a Rotorua house for several hours.
Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales has previously said the alleged attack on Lee at the prison took place in a yard.
"The alleged assault occurred in the unit's yard," he said. "Staff responded to stop the assault and provide medical assistance to the victim."