8 Nov 2018

Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek: 'Much of what has been said does not present the true picture'

11:12 pm on 8 November 2018

Convicted Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek has just released a written statement, the first time he's made any comment.

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Photo: Carmen Bird Photography

Sroubek is at the centre of a controversy after Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway confirmed his residency and stopped him from being deported.

In a statement, Sroubek says much of what has been said about him and his circumstances does not present the true picture.

"In 2010 I faced charges. I was properly acquitted at trial, as were all of the other people charged," he said.

A witness in the case made an appeal to the court in 2010 to give evidence remotely, because of fears for his safety.

The judge rejected the appeal but in his decision detailed two assaults against the witness - one involving Sroubek, and a second with Sroubek and three co-accused, who had links to Hells Angels.

The witness, his wife and child ended up in police protection.

"Comments made about that case in the media are not balanced, and in particular do not reflect that the key prosecution witness' evidence was discredited," Sroubek said.

His statement goes on to say that questions raised by National Party Deputy leader Paula Bennett imply he may have something to do with an alleged burglary of a property he has interest in.

"The allegation I was involved in that burglary is completely without foundation. I was not involved in the burglary."

Yesterday in Parliament, Ms Bennett, asked whether new information that officials were looking at in the Sroubek case included the burglary of his estranged wife's house just days after Sroubek learnt it had gone on the market.

She also asked whether the investigation would look at whether the police had questioned Sroubek about a break-in at the house.

Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters, replied that all the information available at the time would be looked at and that he should have been deported from the country, according to the evidence starting to emerge now.

The Czech Republic's Ministry of Justice is now preparing an extradition request.

In a statement it said as well as seeking prosecution for attempted bodily harm and disorderly conduct, Sroubek had a conviction for disorderly conduct, damaging another's property, and attacking a law enforcement officer.

"He is required to serve a sentence of imprisonment of four years and six months in relation to those convictions," a spokesperson said.

Mr Lees-Galloway has ordered an investigation into the information he received from officials, which led to his decision to let Sroubek stay in New Zealand once he is released from jail.

The investigation has been given a three-week deadline, but both the prime minister and Mr Lees-Galloway want it done a lot more quickly than that.

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