Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek liable to be deported - Iain Lees-Galloway

Convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek will be liable to be deported upon his release from custody, Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway announced on Wednesday in a major U-turn on the controversial case.

Originally from the Czech Republic, Sroubek fled to New Zealand in 2003 on a false passport.

In 2015, he was convicted of importing MDMA and jailed for almost six years. In 2009 he returned to the Czech Republic, despite implying there was a danger to his life in his home country.

In justifying his initial decision to grant Sroubek residency earlier this year, Mr Lees-Galloway said on Wednesday he considered the likelihood that these claims were "misleading or at least embellished".

"However there was one fact I could not overlook. Judge Roy Wade had accepted Scroubek's life would be in danger if he returned to the Czech Republic," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

"Judge Wade had the opportunity to hear arguments for and against the claim that his life would be put at risk if he convicted him, and he determined that it would."

"Clearly any suggestion Sroubek had returned to the Czech Republic would have severely undermined his claims. It is apparent in his file that he travelled in and out of New Zealand several times between 2003 and 2009.

"I asked whether it was possible to determine where he travelled to, but was told that this was not information that INZ was able to access.

According to Mr Lees-Galloway, information regarding charges without a conviction was not made available to Immigration New Zealand, nor to him as they would have been unfairly prejudiced against Sroubek.

However, he goes on to say that the "Evidence that he did return to the Czech Republic was contained in those court documents and was not available to Immigration New Zealand, nor was it easily accessible."

Mr Lees Galloway says that the lack of accessibility regarding this information is something that will need to be considered in future cases.

Mr Lees-Galloway granted Sroubek permanent residency earlier this year. However, he later announced he would reconsider the decision after becoming "aware that information may exist that appears on the face of it to directly contradict information that I used and relied upon to make that decision".

On Wednesday, Mr Lees-Galloway said that when Sroubek's visas were granted "his Czech convictions rendered him a person not able to meet that bar - Immigration NZ did not know this because he was using a false identity".

Mr Lees-Galloway confirmed that Sroubek will be able to appeal saying that, "he has the option to appeal to the Immigration Tribunal on the grounds of facts and humanitarian grounds".