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Katalin Novak, Hungary’s president resigns over child sexual abuse scandal

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Katalin Novak, Hungary’s president resigns over child sexual abuse scandal

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

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 said in a televised statement on Saturday that she will be stepping down from the presidency, which 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, Hungary’s first female president, had sparked a political crisis unprecedented in the country’s long-running nationalist regime.

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There were protests in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, on Friday demanding Novak quit.

The man pardoned by the President 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 remains unknown why Novak pardoned no fewer than two dozen people ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Hungary in April 2023.

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

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