Hungarian president Katalin Novak resigns after pardoning man in child sex abuse case | World News

Hungary’s president has been forced to resign after she pardoned a man convicted of concealing child sex abuse at a state-run children’s home.

Katalin Novak, 46, issued the presidential pardon in April 2023, but it has only come to light in recent days.

After protests across the country, Ms Novak said on Saturday: “I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest for many people. I made a mistake.”

Ms Novak is a key ally of Hungary‘s right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban.

She was the first woman to become president when she assumed the role in 2022 – and the youngest person in the country’s history.

Protesters call for Ms Novak’s resignation on the Chain Bridge in Budapest. Pic: Reuters

The convict in the case was sentenced to more than three years in prison in 2018 after he pressured victims of the director of the children’s home into silence.

The head of the organisation was jailed for eight years for abusing at least 10 children between 2004 and 2016.

The scandal also implicated the former justice minister Judit Varga, who endorsed the president’s decision at the time.

In a Facebok post on Saturday, Ms Varga said she would also step down – and “retire from public life, resigning my seat as a member of parliament and also as leader of the EP list”.

Protesters in Budapest. Pic: Reuters
Protesters in Budapest. Pic: Reuters

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Ms Novak’s Fidesz party, which has been in power since 2010, is facing turmoil as leader Mr Orban fends off allegations of electoral rigging and media censorship.

She has been a strong supporter of his and has been a vocal advocate of “traditional family values” and the protection of children.

Her statement added: “Based on the request for clemency and the information available, I decided in April last year in favour of clemency in the belief that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of the children entrusted to him.

“I made a mistake, because the decision to pardon and the lack of justification were apt to raise doubts about zero tolerance for paedophilia. But here, there is not and nor can there be any doubt.”


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