6 Nov 2018

Family put into witness protection after Sroubek case

6:12 pm on 6 November 2018

The latest revelation about the convicted Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek is that a whole family ended up in witness protection as a result of charges he faced in the past.

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Photo: Carmen Bird Photography

A witness in a case where Sroubek was facing charges of aggravated robbery and kidnapping made an appeal to the court in 2010 to give evidence remotely, because of fears for his safety.

The judge rejected that but in his decision detailed two assaults against him - one involving Sroubek, and a second with Sroubek and three co-accused, who had links to the Hell's Angels.

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

The Immigration Minister is already under pressure over his decision not to deport Sroubek - who's serving a five year jail sentence for importing MDMA - and the National Party says this raises even more questions.

Minister Iain 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.

Last week it emerged Sroubek had returned to Europe, and possibly the Czech Republic, despite fear for his safety being part of the reason he was allowed to avoid deportation.

During parliamentary question time, National leader Simon Bridges asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern if she knew "that one of the criminal charges Karel Sroubek has faced resulted in the police placing an entire family into New Zealand's witness protection programme."

Ms Ardern replied there were a "range of reasons" the minister had gone back to Immigration to "seek clarification" about the case.

The minister was reluctant to discuss the new information, but had this challenge for the opposition.

"If the National Party has additional information it thinks is pertinent to the investigation it has two choices: it can continue to play politics... or it can participate with the investigation."

National's immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said it was his job as an opposition MP to bring such information to light.

"The minister has already accused me of playing politics, me rolling into Immigration New Zealand with a handful of papers would be playing politics - he's responsible for this".

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.

Sroubek and his co-accused were eventually found not guilty of the aggravated robbery and kidnapping charges in the High Court in Auckland.

Property for sale

It has also emerged today that Sroubek is laying claim to an expensive house in Auckland's eastern suburbs.

Sroubek has placed a caveat on the title of an Abbotts Way property in Remuera that's currently being advertised for sale at $2.3 million

His in-laws, who appear to be based in Russia, are listed as the property's owners.

Court documents show Antolik paid more than $160,000 towards clearing a loan held on the house.

Linz documents show he lodged a financial interest on the title on 26 October.

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