Sex abuse teacher appeals over citizenship

Sex abuse teacher appeals over citizenship

A renowned musician and piano teacher who was jailed for sexually abusing pupils more than 15 years ago has lost another court battle.

Victor Makarov, who is in his late 60s, lived in Ukraine from the age of three until he emigrated to Australia in 1998 to take up a position at the Australian Institute of Music.

Makarov was convicted in 2004 and 2005 of child sex offences committed against students, some as they practised at the institute's studios.

After his conviction – but before some appeal processes were finalised – the Australian government started to take measures to revoke the citizenship he had obtained in 2001.

Makarov was released from prison in 2018 after serving his full sentence.

Since then he has been in immigration detention as his lawyers try to challenge the decision to revoke his citizenship.

In early correspondence Makarov proclaimed his innocence, referring to his “upstanding reputation and status within the music community,” according to a Federal Court judgment handed down on Wednesday.

He provided about 80 letters from former students, colleagues, friends and parents of former students “attesting his capabilities as an excellent musician and piano teacher”.

In 2019 Makarov formed a view – based on two Ukrainian lawyers' opinions – that he had lost his Ukrainian citizenship when he acquired Australian citizenship, making him stateless if revoked.

But the Australian government was told by the Ukrainian Embassy in 2007 that its citizens had to apply to lose citizenship as it was not lost automatically when their require foreign citizenship.

The abuse students sustained at the hands of Makarov was raised in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The royal commission reported in 2017 that the Australian Institute of Music did not take proper steps to protect Makarov's students, with the tutor being allowed to continue teaching under supervision for months after he was charged with a number of child sexual offences in February 2004.

This was despite the NSW Department of Education having rated Makarov a “high level of risk”.

The Federal Court judges on Wednesday dismissed Makarov's appeal, deciding in favour of the ministers of home affairs and immigration, citizenship, migrant services and multicultural affairs.

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