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Hungary’s president resigns over pardon of man convicted in child sexual abuse case

Hungary’s president resigns over pardon of man convicted in child sexual abuse case
February 11
11:04 2024

Katalin Novak has resigned as the president of Hungary following mounting public criticism over her decision to pardon a man implicated in an underage sexual abuse case.

Last week, Hungarian local media reported that Novak had given clemency to Endre Kónya, deputy director of a state-run orphanage, who was jailed for forcing children to retract sexual abuse claims against the director.

The director was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually abusing underaged boys between 2004 and 2016 while the deputy director received a three-year sentence.

Although the clemency was granted to the deputy director in April 2023, it only came to light recently.

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The disclosure caused public uproar and demands from the opposition for Novak to quit.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Budapest, the country’s capital, on Friday, to demand the president’s resignation.

Cutting short an official visit to Qatar on Saturday, Novak announced her resignation on state television.

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“I decided to grant a pardon last April, believing that the convict did not exploit the vulnerability of the children whom he had overseen,” Novak said.

“I made a mistake, as the pardon and the lack of reasoning were conducive to triggering doubts about the zero tolerance that applies to paedophilia.”

She apologised “to those whom I may have offended and to all the victims who might have felt that I did not stand up for them,” adding that she had always “consistently advocated for the protection of children and families”.

“Today is the last day that I address you as a president,” Novak said.

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In 2022, Novak made history by becoming the first woman to lead Hungary.

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