Court documents confirm Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek did return to Europe


The Czech drug smuggler granted residency by the Immigration Minister did return to Europe in 2009, court documents show.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has this afternoon ordered an investigation into aspects of the case, not giving details due to 'strong' legal reasons.

The National Party has been questioning the decision of Mr Lees-Galloway to let Karel Sroubek stay as a New Zealand resident, and therefore avoid deportation.

National leader Simon Bridges said Sroubek had argued in his bid to stay in New Zealand that he would be in danger if he returned to the Czech Republic.

The 2009 application was specifically for Sroubek, under the false name of Jan Antolik, to travel to the Czech Republic for business, and was granted. It was confirmed he did return to Europe, although it was not clear if he visited the Czech Republic.

Mr Lees-Galloway said yesterday he was seeking urgent advice in light of the new information, and confirmed a short time ago he had asked Immigration New Zealand to urgently investigate the allegations to determine their veracity.

"As a decision maker, I cannot rely on innuendo or hearsay or speculation, but these allegations certainly are concerning to me."

He declined to go into any detail about the new information "for legal reasons".

In a tense showdown in Parliament this afternoon, Mr Lees-Galloway repeatedly refused to answer questions about the case from the National Party.

National MP Michael Woodhouse asked whether Stroubek or his lawyer expressed any concerns for his safety if he was returned to the Czech republic.

"I am not making any further comment on what information I used to make that decision," Mr Lees-Galloway told MPs.

Mr Woodhouse asked whether the Minister was aware that the Czech national had twice visited the the Czech republic while awaiting trial on kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges.

Mr Lees-Galloway again declined to answer, saying it was "not in the public interest" to do so.

The parole board had considered Mr Stroubek unsafe to release back into the community just 48 hours before he was granted residency.

Travel application

Sroubek was jailed two years ago, for more than five years, for importing MDMA.

In 2009 the High Court in Auckland gave Sroubek permission to travel to the Czech Republic, ahead of an impending court case.

The application was for "variation of bail to permit Mr Antolik to travel to the Czech Republic on business".

"He is the owner of two businesses which are involved in trade with parties in the Czech Republic and it is necessary for him to go there from time to time in order to facilitate transactions involving the import of Czech goods into New Zealand."

The judgement also said Sroubek had been granted a similar application earlier in the year, despite the opposition of the police.

"Mr Antolik duly went to Europe and returned in compliance with the conditions of the bail variation."

There were a number of conditions attached: he was given a 20-day window to travel, during which the District Court at Auckland would return his passport to him, to be returned to the High Court once he arrived back in New Zealand.

The court was told the application was opposed, but not "with excessive vigour", by the police lawyer.

"She submits that there is a flight risk, but that it cannot be characterised as high.

"In my view that approach is realistic.

"Mr Antolik is now a permanent resident of this country, living in a long term relationship with a New Zealand citizen; they own a home together. There is a significant equity in it.

"Moreover, Mr Antolik operates substantial businesses here, which involve the importation of goods from the Czech Republic. In other words, there is a great deal to tie him to this jurisdiction.

"Mr Antolik has already demonstrated that he can be trusted to return at the time advised to the Court, because he has already complied with the terms of a similar variation granted earlier in the year as discussed above."

By Jane Patterson

rnz.co.nz

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he wants a report back in three weeks or less. Source: 1 NEWS


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