Czech Republic to seek extradition of drug smuggler Karel Sroubek from NZ

The Czech Republic is soon to launch efforts to extradite the convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek from New Zealand.

Sroubek is at the centre of a firestorm in New Zealand after Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway confirmed his residency and stopped him from being deported. The case is now being reviewed by Immigration New Zealand.

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

In a statement to a Czech website called Watchdog, the Czech Republic's Justice Ministry said an arrest warrant was issued for Sroubek in 2013 for outstanding criminal proceedings.

"Karel Šroubek was sentenced to four years and six months in prison in the Czech Republic. He is also being sought for further criminal charges," an English translation of the statement said.

Czech Republic had been advised by New Zealand authorities that extradition proceedings could take several years and so had been waiting for his deportation instead, the statement said.

However that would probably no longer be possible, due to "the recent change of the circumstances", the ministry said.

"For that reason the Czech Republic will now request for extradition as it is the only way to fulfil the purpose of criminal proceedings in the Czech Republic.

"The Ministry of Justice will do so as soon as possible."

New photos show Mr Sroubek wasn’t laying low in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

An Interpol listing online states Sroubek is wanted in the Czech Republic for disorderly conduct, damaging of another's property, and attacking a law enforcement officer.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told Parliament on Thursday Czech officials had not yet requested Sroubek's extradition.

"The fact of the matter is there has been no extradition request from the Czech Republic to New Zealand in relation to Mr Sroubek," he told MPs.

He confirmed the Czech Republic had contacted New Zealand in 2015 to indicate they "may be interested" in requesting Sroubek's extradition.

A spokesperson for Mr Little confirmed a formal request had still not been received as of now.

Sroubek is currently serving time in prison for importing about 5kg of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy. He entered New Zealand on a false passport in 2003 and has a long history of brushes with the law.

Mr Lees-Galloway has refused to say why he decided to allow Sroubek to remain in New Zealand, citing privacy and legal reasons.

Sroubek has reportedly claimed that he fled his home country because he feared for his safety.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the handling of the case was not good enough.

She said the immigration minister made a decision on the information he had at the time, but three weeks was too long for an investigation and she wanted answers as quickly as possible.

Mr Lees-Galloway launched an investigation into the case on Thursday, saying he'd become aware of new allegations that could contradict the information he relied on to make his decision.

Earlier in the day, RNZ revealed the existence of a 2009 court judgment which showed Sroubek, under the name Jan Antolik, was given permission to travel to the Czech Republic while on bail and that he'd already been back to Europe earlier that year.

- By Craig McCullogh
Additional reporting by Tim Watkin.

rnz.co.nz

Karel Sroubek entered New Zealand on a false passport, and gained residency under the name Jan Antolik. Source: Supplied / Interpol