Czech fugitive back in court for third time

By Edward Gay

Jan Antolik. File photo / NZ Herald
Jan Antolik. File photo / NZ Herald

A Czech man who witnessed a murder and fled to New Zealand on a false passport could be deported after appearing before the courts for the third time.

Jan Antolik was convicted in the Auckland District Court on Thursday of refusing to give police a blood specimen after being pulled over on suspicion of drink driving.

His lawyer Paul Wicks told the court his client should be discharged without conviction because a conviction would give the immigration minister automatic grounds to deport him.

"He will have to return to a very real situation of grave personal danger,'' Mr Wicks said.

It is the second time Antolik has applied for a discharge without conviction and the third time he has been before the courts.

The 31-year-old was given diversion in 2008 after being charged with carrying a knife and fighting in a public place.

He was also found guilty in November 2011 of possessing a false passport and lying to immigration officials.

In his latest case Judge Tony Fitzgerald said granting a second discharge without conviction could send the message that Antolik was immune from prosecution.

While the judge accepted that Antolik had refused to give a blood sample out of ``fear'' for his immigration status, the situation had changed since his 2011 charges.

He said while Antolik faced a risk of deportation as a result of the conviction, the information would have been before the authorities regardless of the result.

Judge Fitzgerald fined Antolik $200 and ordered him to pay court costs of $132.

Mr Wicks said outside court that the conviction will be appealed to the High Court.

The court has heard Antolik - born Karel Sroubek - came from the Czech Republic in September 2003 to start a new life.

Aged 22 at the time, his family had been threatened by two police officers who wanted them to lie and clear the main suspect in a murder investigation.

Instead, Antolik left a videotaped witness statement, which was crucial in convicting the killer, and fled the country with a friend's passport.

But he was unmasked in October 2009 when Czech police called Auckland detectives and gave details of his identity and an arrest warrant on minor charges in connection with the 2003 murder.

Judge Roy Wade granted Antolik a discharge without conviction last year for the passport charges but only after Antolik completed 200 hours of voluntary community work.

The judge was convinced that Antolik would still be in danger from corrupt Czech authorities and the man he helped convict of murder if he were deported to the Czech Republic.

"I am satisfied that your initial false applications were as a result of you doing the right thing, not the wrong thing.''

A spokesman for Immigration New Zealand said today Antolik would have the chance to make a submission as to why he should not be deported before his case is put before Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse to make a decision.

The spokesman said it was not known how long that process would take.

- NZ Herald

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