Duncan Garner calls for more transparency over drug lord residency

The AM Show 30/10/2018

Duncan Garner is calling on the Immigration Minister to provide justification for allowing a convicted drug smuggler to stay in New Zealand.

"Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has not convinced anyone as to why he has allowed Czech crook, convicted drug smuggler and gang associate Karel Sroubek to stay in New Zealand," said Garner.

The AM Show host criticised Mr Lees-Galloway's lack of transparency over the case. But the minister's decisions are made in "absolute discretion", which means he doesn't not have to provide a reason for the decision he makes.

Mr Lees-Galloway released a letter on Monday which he had sent to Sroubek in September, outlining the conditions of his residency. If he fails to meet those obligations, he will again be eligible for deportation.

"Indeed the letter that the minister has released about granting him residency only raises more questions," Garner told The AM Show. "It gives Shroubek this final warning under the minister's powers of absolute discretion."

Convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek. Photo: Supplied.

But Garner said New Zealanders have a right to know why the convicted criminal is being protected, when "600 would-be immigrants who wanted to set up a business here in New Zealand under the business category were turned away last year".

"The minister does not once say why he has not sent him home," Garner added. "He does not say why it's so crucial that this man must stay in New Zealand. Does he have kids here? We don't know."

Sroubek fled to New Zealand from the Czech Republic on a false passport in 2003, fleeing who he claimed were corrupt police after witnessing a murder. He soon became affiliated with Hell's Angels, and was imprisoned for importing drugs, among other charges.

During Mr Sroubek's 2009 trial for using a false passport, he reportedly said he had been threatened by Czech police, who wanted him to lie and clear the main subject in a murder investigation. It was these threats that apparently led him to flee to New Zealand.

"The minister has even asked for proof as to his true identity - he doesn't even know who he is!" said Garner. The Parole Board, he added, which has refused to allow him out of prison, says Sroubek provided "evasive, long-winded, manifestly untruthful responses".

"Surely, that is not a man who warrants our generosity of spirit, let alone a free pass to stay here," said Garner. "That's a man who needs to be sent home to face his own music and this should not be our problem. We look like suckers, and we are."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is standing by Mr Lees-Galloway, telling The AM Show it was a difficult decision for him to make, and that Sroubek now has a "very clear understanding of the choices he is now making".

She said her understanding is that Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik, had been granted permanent residency "some years ago", but was liable for deportation over the fact that his original visa was in a false name.

But Garner isn't convinced it was the right decision to let Sroubek stay in New Zealand. He said Mr Lees-Galloway must be "more transparent, because New Zealanders are demanding to be heard here".

"Perhaps the minister has forgotten who put him in Parliament in the first place."

Watch the full commentary above.

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.

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