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Czech Republic plans to extradite Karel Sroubek

Czech officials plan to officially apply to extradite a drug smuggler who was granted New Zealand residency.

In 2016, Sroubek – who came to New Zealand using a fake name and fake documents - was convicted for importing ecstasy and was liable for deportation to the Czech Republic.

However, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he decided to cancel Sroubek’s liability for deportation, and grant him residency under his real name.

While neither he nor the Prime Minister would explicitly say why, it was implied Sroubek would be in danger if he returned to his home country.

But within days of the decision being made public, contradictory information surfaced – including allegations that he had travelled back to the Czech Republic since arriving in New Zealand, as well as further details regarding charges he faced in his home country.

Czech officials had been in touch with New Zealand officials in the past regarding extradition, but to date no official application for Sroubek’s extradition has been made.

In statement published today on the Czech website Watchdog a spokesman for the country’s Justice Ministry said the Czech Republic had been advised by New Zealand authorities extradition proceedings could take several years.

Due to the timeframe, the Czech Republic had decided to wait for his deportation, translation of the statement said.

However, the Minister’s decision to grant Sroubek residency changed the circumstances.

"For that reason the Czech Republic will now request for extradition as it is the only way to fulfil the purpose of criminal proceedings in the Czech Republic.

"The Ministry of Justice will proceed with the official request in due course."

In the statement, the ministry also talked about Sroubek’s outstanding criminal proceedings, including a prison sentence of four years and six months.

The 37-year-old’s Interpol profile said he had been charged with disorderly conduct, damaging of another's property, and attacking a law enforcement officer.

Andrew Little, the Minister in charge of extradition applications, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Lees-Galloway has instructed Immigration New Zealand to carry out an investigation into the contradictory information to verify whether it was valid.

INZ had asked for three weeks to conduct the investigation into the information, but the Prime Minister wants it sooner than that.

On Friday, Jacinda Ardern said her expectation was for the information to be worked through quickly.

“We’ve absolutely agreed this needs to happen much sooner than three weeks,” she said, referring to a conversation with Lees-Galloway earlier in the day.

A Minister could only deal with the information put in front of them, and if there were systemic issues around the Minister not being properly briefed, or given access to ll the relevant information, then that would also need to be investigated, Ardern said.

In the first instance, this particular case needed to be resolved, then any systemic or procedural issues would be investigated, she said.

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