Hungarian president resigns over the pedophile pardon scandal

Katalin Novak has resigned as president of Hungary. Novak pardoned a man who had been convicted as an accomplice in the cover-up of a sexual abuse case in an orphanage. She apologized for her actions and said she had made a mistake.

Pedophile pardon scandal in Hungary

Katalin Novak pardoned about 20 people before the Pope’s visit in April 2023. Among them was the deputy director of the orphanage. He helped the former director of the institution conceal crimes related to pedophilia. The court sentenced the director to 8 years for sexually abusing several underage boys between 2004 and 2016.

The court sentenced his deputy to 3 years and 4 months in prison and imposed a five-year ban on his work and public activities. According to the investigation, he tried to pressure children to recant their testimony and commit perjury. 

A scandal erupted in Hungary against the backdrop of the man’s pardon. The opposition called on President Novak to resign.

About 1,000 people participated in a rally held in Budapest on Friday, February 9. Hundreds of protesters demanded that Novak resign. She herself was in Qatar at the time.

What did the President Novak say?

Katherine Novak not only announced her resignation but also admitted that the decision to pardon her was pending an explanation.

I made a mistake. The decision to pardon and the lack of justification could have raised doubts. There are no and cannot be any doubts. I would never pardon anyone who abuses children. Protecting children is our shared responsibility,” Katalin Novak said.

Novak apologized to all those she offended and to all victims of sexual abuse who may have felt that the president did not support them. According to her, she expects the new president not to make mistakes, and if he does, he will take responsibility for them and resign if necessary.

Now, the Hungarian parliament must elect a new president within 30 days of the end of Katalin Novak’s term.

It is worth noting that Novak was not the only one to resign. Justice Minister Judit Varga, who signed her pardon, also resigned.

What did Orban say?

Amid the scandal, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently said that there can be no pardon for pedophile criminals. On behalf of the government, he submitted an amendment to the Constitution that would make it impossible to pardon a person who has committed a crime against a minor child.

Orban also said that he has five children and six grandchildren. The head of government said that if someone touched them, his first thought would be to “cut him in half or tear him to pieces.”.

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