Sun 11 February 2024:
Hungary’s president Katalin Novak has been forced to resign after she pardoned a man convicted of concealing child sex abuse at a state-run children’s home.
Novak announced her resignation on Saturday after coming under mounting pressure for pardoning a man convicted as an accomplice for helping cover up a sex abuse case in a children’s home.
“I made a mistake … Today is the last day that I address you as a president,” she said in a speech broadcast on state television.
“I made a decision to grant a pardon last April, believing that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of children whom he had overseen. I made a mistake as the pardon and the lack of reasoning was suitable to trigger doubts over the zero tolerance that applies to paedophilia,” she added.
At least 1,000 people protested in the country’s capital on Friday, demanding her resignation. Hungarian opposition parties had also demanded she leave office.
Novak decided to pardon some two dozen people in April 2023, ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, among them the deputy director of a children’s home who helped the former director of the home hide his crimes.
The director was sentenced to 8 years in prison for sexually abusing several under-age boys in 2004-2016. The deputy director had been sentenced to more than 3 years.
Hungarian opposition parties have demanded the resignation of Novak, an ally and former family minister of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Novak said on Tuesday she would never pardon a paedophile, including in this case. She said the reason behind her decision was not public and all pardons were divisive by their nature.
First female president
Novak is an ally and former family minister of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban. She was also the first female president in Hungary’s history and the youngest person to ever hold the office.
Her resignation came as a rare piece of political turmoil for Hungary’s nationalist governing party Fidesz, which has ruled with a constitutional majority since 2010.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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