29 Nov 2018

Karel Sroubek speaks out from behind bars

From Checkpoint, 6:07 pm on 29 November 2018

Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek has spoken out from behind bars, telling Checkpoint he "fully believes" his life will be in danger should he return home.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway yesterday over-rode his earlier decision to let the Czech drug smuggler stay in New Zealand, ruling instead he could be kicked out once released from prison.

Speaking to Checkpoint from prison today, Sroubek - who wants to be known as Jan Antolik - said he believed the minister had to bow to pressure from the National Party.

"I firmly believe he was fighting for his seat in Parliament. And obviously because it has become so political nobody really cares about the basics of my case and my safety if I go back to the Czech Republic.

Sroubek said getting deported was too big a punishment for the crimes he had committed.

"I have made many mistakes in my life and of course I'm paying for it now daily and I'm getting punished for whatever wrongs I've done, now getting deported somewhere where my safety is a concern and where I'm definitely going to be mistreated, and I'm not going to have a fair trial and I'm not going to get justice, then that's far beyond punishment."

Watch Lisa Owen's full interview with Karel Sroubek here:

He said he still believed his life would be in danger if he was to be deported.

"There are some facts provided to Immigration over the years and to the Immigration minister that back my fears fully.

"It is very hard to understand and especially people in New Zealand because you guys grew up in a completely different system. Now, all the post-communist countries, even though they are members of the European Union, are still considered post-communist countries."

Sroubek said he went back to the Czech Republic in 2007 and 2008.

"I made two trips while I was in Germany and in Europe and it was a very dangerous call, however I wasn't travelling under my own identity. I had a password and driver's license under a different identity and I had credit cards under a new identity...under the name of Jan Antolik."

He said he drove across the border from Stuttgard in Germany with no border crossing and it was like driving from Auckland to Tauranga.

"I didn't go across any border controls or checked by any police along the way.

"I stayed for about 24 hours and I left back to Germany because my parents where too concerned about me.

"I understand it looks bad, but unless somebody is in the situation I have been for years then, it's really hard.

"I didn't choose to go to New Zealand, I was forced to leave my country and at that time, I had a huge attachment to my family, I wanted to check on them to see if they were alright and to see them and I just missed home and I think people can understand that.

"If I get deported to Czech Republic I am face serious threat to my health and to myself. I face injustice and I face mistreatment. People in New Zealand who know me they know, in my heart, I am a good person to everyone, I can be a good citizen and good member of society.

"I am a changed man and have been for a long time."

Sroubek is due to be released around 2022. The Czech Republic's Ministry of Justice is now preparing an extradition request.