16 Sep 2019

Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek tells Parole Board 'I made a terrible mistake'

7:37 pm on 16 September 2019

Convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek has told the Parole Board he made a "terrible mistake" in his third bid for an early release from prison.

No caption

Karel Sroubek Photo: Carmen Bird Photography

The Czech kickboxer, also known as Jan Antolik, is serving an almost six-year prison sentence for importing ecstasy.

Wearing a grey, prison-issued jumper, he appeared from Auckland South Prison in a Parole Board hearing in Wellington this morning.

Sroubek told panel convener Sir Ron Young and board members Sam Perry and Lawrence Tawera he was taking his jail sentence "day by day".

"I made a terrible mistake and I've learnt that there's no shortcuts in life and that I've lost everything that I really care for.

"I want to be a good member of the community. I don't want to be remembered as a criminal or portrayed as a criminal because that's not who I am."

Sroubek said he already had job offers in the building industry and wanted to run personal training sessions and complete an online computer programming course on his release.

"I'm positive and just trying to be as good as I can be under the circumstances. It's been the hardest time of my life if I'm honest."

His lawyer, Paul Wicks QC, told the panel Sroubek had taken "significant steps" since his last hearing and demonstrated he was now in a position to be pro-social on release.

However, Mr Wicks said because Sroubek was liable for deportation he was ineligible for a return to work programme suggested at his previous parole board hearing.

Panel convener Sir Ron Young suggested Sroubek's risk of reoffending had been underestimated because full information about his past was not known.

He raised the existence of an international arrest warrant for Sroubek in relation to convictions for violence and wilful damage and an outstanding prison term.

Sir Ron also asked about how Sroubek came to possess the $160,000 confiscated from him as criminal proceeds.

Sroubek said he was a free man when he left his home country, unaware of the arrest warrant until his last Parole Board hearing, and told the panel he gained the money through fights, personal training and his parents.

The hour-long hearing ended with the panel members reserving their decision.

Sroubek is liable for deportation once released from prison after Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway backtracked on a decision to grant him residency last year.

However, the 38-year-old will remain in the country until an appeal with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal is heard.

As of Friday last week a date had not been set.

The Czech national dominated headlines in late 2018 after it was revealed the government granted him residency instead of being deported after serving his prison sentence.

He is serving a jail term of five years nine months' imprisonment for importing five kilograms of MDMA valued at $375,000 in September 2014.

Sroubek entered New Zealand in 2003 under a false passport and gained residency in the name of Jan Antolik in 2008. This was granted under the sports talent category as he was a world kickboxing champion at the time.

Mr Lees-Galloway granted Sroubek residency under his real name in October 2018 after what he said was careful consideration of all the information available at the time.

However, it was later revealed the Czech national had twice visited the Czech republic while awaiting trial on kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges on a different passport.

This oversight forced Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway to revoke the residency and apologise to the Prime Minister Jacinda Adern.

Sroubek had travelled under the alias of fellow Czech kickboxer Jan Antolik, who may have also entered New Zealand on a number of occasions.

Border records show men, likely Sroubek or Mr Antolik, came into the country with Jan Antolik's passport during different months in 2003 and 2004 with no corresponding departure dates.

Immigration New Zealand was sufficiently concerned and confused about the movements that it created two files for Mr Antolik to reconcile the discrepancies.

Despite this, decision-makers overlooked these movements when considering Sroubek's residence visa application a decade ago.

He was discharged without conviction over the passport fraud after telling a judge he feared for his life because of corrupt police and underworld figures seeking revenge if he was deported.

He was also charged and then cleared of aggravated robbery and kidnapping with members of the Hell's Angels.

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

A delayed review into Sroubek's case and how case files are handled is due sometime this year.

Sroubek's statutory release date is 5 January 2022.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs