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Hungary’s president resigns facing criticism over pardoning convicted pedophile

 VB  Desk

VB Desk

Sun, 11 Feb 24

Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned on Saturday following mounting public criticism over pardoning a man convicted of helping to cover up sexual abuse in a children's home.

Novak, a close ally of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, resigned a week after her presidential pardon was first made public by Hungarian media last week, triggering public uproar and demands from the opposition for her to quit, reports Reuters.

“I made a mistake ... Today is the last day that I address you as a president,” Novak, who became president in 2022, said while announcing her resignation on state television on February 10.

Judit Varga, the former minister of justice who approved the pardon, has also resigned from her new role leading the European elections campaign for Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party.

The controversy which led to the resignations came after the names of 25 people pardoned by Novak in April last year, as part of a visit to Hungary by Pope Francis, were reported in local newspapers last week.

On the list of convicts was the deputy director of a children's home near Budapest, who had been jailed for three years after forcing children to retract claims of abuse against the director of the home.

The director had himself been jailed for eight years over abusing children at the government-run facility.

The presidential pardon created an unprecedented political crisis for the long-standing nationalist government. In a bid to contain the political damage, Orban personally submitted a constitutional amendment to parliament late on Thursday depriving the president of the right to pardon crimes committed against children. Some political analysts had interpreted that move as a clear message to Novak, the first female president in Hungary’s history and the youngest person to ever hold the office.

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