Hungarian President Katalin Novak Resigns Amid Pardon Controversy

Hungarian President Katalin Novak announced her resignation following widespread public backlash over her decision to pardon an individual implicated in a child sexual abuse case. The announcement was made during a national televised address, marking a dramatic conclusion to her tenure as the country’s head of state.

President Novak faced intense scrutiny and protest after it came to light that she had pardoned a deputy director of a children’s home involved in concealing the sexual abuse crimes of the facility’s director. The director had been convicted for sexually abusing underage boys from 2004 to 2016, with the deputy director receiving a three-year sentence for his role in covering up these crimes.

The decision to grant pardons, made ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to Hungary in April 2023, included the controversial pardon of the deputy director among approximately two dozen others. This action sparked outrage across the nation, culminating in thousands of protestors gathering in Budapest demanding Novak’s resignation.

During her address, Novak expressed regret over her decision, acknowledging the lack of sufficient reasoning behind the pardon and its potential to cast doubt on the country’s stance against pedophilia. “I made a mistake,” Novak stated, emphasizing her previous commitment to the protection of children and families.

The resignation comes less than two years after Novak, a close ally of Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and former family minister, made history by becoming the first woman to assume the largely ceremonial role of president in Hungary.

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