Drug smuggler Karel Sroubek denied parole for fourth time

Karel Sroubek.
Karel Sroubek. Photo credit: Supplied

By Anneke Smith of RNZ

Convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek has been refused early release from prison for the fourth time.

The Czech kickboxer, also known as Jan Antolik, is serving a six-year jail sentence for importing five kilograms of MDMA valued at $375,000 in September 2014.

He appeared before the Parole Board chairperson Sir Ron Young and board members at Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri on Tuesday.

Dressed in a maroon t-shirt, grey sweat shorts and sneakers the 28 year old read a letter detailing his remorse for his offending and intention to live a prosocial life outside bars.

"I will not waste the chance to start over again," he said.

The former world kickboxing champion entered New Zealand in 2003 under a false passport and gained residency through the sports talent category using the name Jan Antolik in 2008.

He's earmarked for deportation after Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway backtracked on his decision to grant him residency but will stay in the country until an appeal with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal is heard.

This afternoon his lawyer Paul Wicks QC told the board his client had been reassessed as a "medium risk" of general reoffending with various risk factors identified.

However, he said Sroubek - who he called Mr Antolik - had made positive steps in prison which could be continued with a significant support system on release.

"I invite the board to look at Mr Antolik objectively as he presents today. He has now been in prison for some considerable time.

"His time in prison has been positive and he is demonstrating, certainly in prison, a desire to live a prosocial life."

Wicks said Sroubek had employment opportunities on release and some of the criminal charges the kickboxer faced in the Czech Republic had now been dropped.

Sir Ron asked where the board should assess Sroubek's risk to the community, given the Czech national could be deported on early release if he lost his appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

"Why should that impact on his ability to return to the community, re-integrate and commence in rehabilitating?" Wicks said.

Sroubek himself was pressed on how his risk could be mitigated to a level that satisfied the board it was safe to release him into the community.

The kickboxer said the psychologist who had assessed him and concluded he needed to do more work before release had been swayed by the fact he has warrants for his arrest from the Czech Republic.

"To be honest, when I read them I see myself as a very bad person but unfortunately those warrants ... don't represent true events that occurred."

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

He said he had lived a prosocial life behind bars and just needed support from a psychologist outside bars to ensure the good work continued.

Sroubek said he had been "used by politicians" and just wanted to lead a simple life with a goal of having a family one day.

"I've re-evaluated my entire life for the last four years. I just want to enjoy my friends and family and work hard for my living.

"I just wanted to be a successful individual and I wanted to do it under any circumstances. Unfortunately when I got into financial difficulty I was looking for a way out."

Sroubek's principal Corrections officer told the Parole Board his behaviour in his self-care unit had been "excellent".

"He's currently just been keeping himself busy with yoga classes that he runs in the house block. No issues with him."

At the end of the hearing Sir Ron told Sroubek they board could only grant him early release if they were satisfied arrangement had been made in the Czech Republic if he was unsuccessful in the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

The Parole Board declined parole and said they would see Sroubek again in November.

His statutory release date is January 2022.

RNZ

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