National says Iain Lees-Galloway’s role as Immigration Minister will be “under serious threat” if he doesn’t answer questions about why a Czech man behind bars for smuggling drugs has been granted permanent residency by the Minister.
Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell and Immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse have called on Mr Lees-Galloway to explain why Karl Sroubek, a convicted drug smuggler, has been given a Kiwi residency.
Mr Sroubek fled to New Zealand on a false passport in 2003, fleeing who he claimed were corrupt cops after witnessing a murder, reports Stuff.
Using the name Jan Antolik, the man set up life as a businessman, kickboxer and reported Hell’s Angels associate, before being imprisoned for nearly six years for importing drugs with a street value of $375,000. He has also faced several other charges – including robbery – over the years, but for each he was either acquitted or had his convictions overturned.
Mr Sroubek was refused parole by the Parole Board in September, and Mr Mitchell wants to know why he will be “released back onto our streets” rather than being deported when let out of jail.
“The minister must release more information on what appears to be a disgraceful decision to grant residency to a violent gang associate convicted of importing drugs into New Zealand,” Mr Mitchell said.
Mr Lees-Galloway said there are “privacy and legal reasons” preventing him from explaining his decision.
He also said the man would be subject to “significant conditions” and the decision was made after “careful consideration of all information available at the time… it’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly”.
Immigration NZ says decisions by the Minister to cancel deportation liability and grant residency are made in his “absolute discretion”. That means the decision by the Minister can’t be applied for, the Minister doesn’t have to consider any request, nor does the Minister have to provide a reason for the decision. Absolute discretion is the last option available to remain in New Zealand under the country’s immigration settings.
But Mr Mitchell told Newshub Mr Lees-Galloway’s “atrocious” decision still doesn’t stack up, and he has “no idea” why the Immigration Minister made the decision.
“This is serious enough that if he can’t come up with a good explanation for the country, then I would suggest that probably his role as our Immigration Minister is under serious threat,” said Mr Mitchell.
“For the Minister to come and out and say he’s not going to be able to make any of that information public, that’s complete nonsense,” he said.
Mr Woodhouse agreed and said “The information I have on this case does not come close to any threshold where special consideration should be given by the minister”.
Massey University’s Professor Paul Spoonley told Stuff there would need to be significant reasons to not to deport him; that may include someone being in danger if they were returned to their home country.
During Mr Sroubek’s 2009 trial for using a false passport, the man 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 Judge in that case was convinced Mr Sroubek would be in danger if returned to his country of origin, and discharged him without conviction, reports Stuff.
But Mr Mitchell said he doesn’t accept there would be risks to Mr Sroubek’s welfare if he was returned to the Czech Republic.
“I would need to see very compelling evidence to convince me of that. I would like to see what Interpol [says],” he said.
Mr Mitchell wants the man deported when he is released from prison.
The National MPs also accuse the Government of being hypocritical on immigration, letting violent criminals stay in New Zealand while “making it harder for Kiwi employees to fill skills shortages”.