Two men accused of murdering Ricky Wang years before police believe they found the missing man's body in a shallow grave near the Desert Rd have pleaded not guilty.
The duo, aged 28 and 33, were charged last month with murdering Wang. Police operation Quattro, investigated the disappearance and alleged murder of Bao Chang Wang, also known as Ricky.
Today, the pair, who have interim name suppression, appeared in the High Court for the first time. They pleaded not guilty before Justice Sally Fitzgerald, who remanded them in custody until another hearing in late July.
The judge also suppressed the details of the allegations in the police summary of facts and the legal submissions made in support of suppression.
A trial for the pair was set for July 2021.
Last week a 29-year-old man appeared in the High Court on a charge of accessory to murder.
He pleaded not guilty, had his name suppression continued, and was remanded in custody until the same hearing late next month. A trial date was also scheduled for March next year.
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A second man has also been charged with being an accessory to murder.
The 37-year-old was granted name suppression when he first appeared in the Waitakere District Court last month. He is due to appear in court again in the coming weeks.
A tip-off in March led police to the grisly discovery of human remains buried on the side of Rangipo Intake Rd, off the Desert Rd near Tongariro.
The body, which police say "had been in place for a period of time", was exhumed and an autopsy confirmed the case was officially a homicide inquiry.
Although the remains are yet to be formally identified, police believe they belong to Wang, who has been missing since 2017.
Detective Inspector John Sutton earlier said that a team of detectives was working on Operation Quattro and expected "further arrests". He said police were following a number of leads from information provided by the public.
The four arrests came nearly three weeks after police released a photograph of Wang, a Chinese national and permanent Kiwi resident.
Wang's family believed he had travelled overseas in 2017 and he was not reported as missing in New Zealand. Police had been in contact with his family in New Zealand and in China to make sure he did not leave the country under a different identity.
An apartment in Auckland apartment was examined over two weeks in late April. It was the second Auckland property to be searched as part of the investigation.