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Bowing to pressure, Hungary’s President Novak quits

"I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest for many people,” Novák said on Saturday. “I made a mistake”

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Hungary’s president has resigned amid outrage over her pardoning of a man convicted in a child sexual abuse case.

President Katalin Novak has faced days of growing pressure to resign because of her controversial decision to pardon a man who was convicted of covering up crimes committed by a sexual predator at a children’s home.

The 46-year-old announced in a televised message on Saturday that she would step down from the presidency, an office she has held since 2022.

“I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest for many people,” Novák said on Saturday. “I made a mistake.”

Novak, the first female president in Hungary’s history, unleashed a political scandal unprecedented for the country’s long-serving nationalist government.

There were protests in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, on Friday, demanding Novak’s resignation.

The man whom Novak pardoned was sentenced to more than three years in prison in 2018 for pressuring victims to retract their claims of sexual abuse in a state-run children’s home by its director, who was sentenced to eight years for abusing at least 10 children between 2004 and 2016.

It was well known that Novak had pardoned some two dozen people ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Hungary in April 2023.

However, it was only recently disclosed that one of those pardoned was the deputy director of the children’s home, who covered for his boss while he preyed on its residents.

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