Justice officials on Friday announced a criminal inquiry was under way into the activities of five guards from NSA Sécurité and three employees of the immigration department.
Le Matin reported that Yvan Perrin, SVP candidate for the cantonal government and federal MP, is deputy director of NSA, a company hired by the government to provide security at the Perreux asylum seekers centre.
The security guards and the other employees are under suspicion after asylum seekers reported cases of sexual relations against them following an altercation in early December 2012.
Earlier this month, police interviewed 16 refugees, Thierry Grosjean, minister of the economy, and prosecutor Yannis Callandret told a press conference.
Police also talked to a representative of Amnesty International who was contacted by asylum seekers over cases of alleged abuse, they said.
Investigations are continuing into the case.
The government said the eight persons suspected benefit from a presumption of innocence.
However, two of the three asylum centre employees have been suspended for “unprofessional behaviour”, while NSA has replaced the security guards.
Because of the investigations under way, Perrin, a former police inspector, is not commenting on the case.
Neither is Nicolas Rohrbach, another former policeman who is director of NSA.
The provisional mandate of the company at the centre was the subject of an 864,000-franc grant approved on an urgent basis by the Neuchâtel parliament in October, Le Matin reported.