Hungarian president resigns over child sexual abuse pardon

February 11, 2024, 12:24 pm

<p>Hungarian President Katlin Novak <em>(TASS)</em></p>

Hungarian President Katlin Novak (TASS)

BUDAPEST – Hungarian President Katlin Novak resigned Saturday in the wake of a scandal after granting pardon to a man involved in a child sexual abuse case.

Novak, 46, announced her decision in a speech broadcast on national television. She said it was her last day addressing the nation as a president, a position she has held since 2022.

Her decision came after more than a week of public outcry after it was reported that she granted a pardon to a man convicted of trying to cover up child sexual abuses in a state-run children’s home.

She granted the pardon in April 2023 and timed with Pope Francis' visit to Budapest.

"I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest for many people. I made a mistake,” Novak said in her speech.

"Understandably, they want an explanation," Novak said.

"Last April I made a decision to grant a pardon believing that the convict had not abused the vulnerability of children of whom he had taken care. I made a mistake as the pardon and the lack of reasoning was suitable to trigger doubts over the zero tolerance that applies to pedophilia," she said.

"I would have never shown mercy to somebody who, I believe, is physically or mentally molesting children," she added.

Novak offered her apologies to everyone who might have felt hurt and let down by her decision.

She was the first female president in Hungary’s history and the youngest person to ever hold the office. (TASS)