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Published: 12:46, February 11, 2024 | Updated: 13:50, February 11, 2024
Hungarian president resigns over sex abuse case pardon
By Reuters
Published:12:46, February 11, 2024 Updated:13:50, February 11, 2024 By Reuters

A handout picture shows Hungary's President Katalin Novak as she announces her resignation in the presidential palace of Budapest on Feb 10, 2024. (SANDOR PALACE VIA AFP)

BUDAPEST – Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned from office on Saturday, following a child abuse pardon scandal.

"I am addressing you as President for the last time, I resign from the position of President of the Republic," Novak said on national television channel M1.

READ MORE: Hungary's parliament elects Katalin Novak as president

"I apologize to those I have offended and to all the victims who might have felt I did not stand by them. I have been, am, and will be in support of protecting children and families.”

Novak’s resignation came a week after her presidential pardon was first reported by local news site 444.hu

Novak pardoned Endre K, former deputy director of a children's home, in April 2023. The pardon, revealed by local news site 444.hu, led to protests on Friday in Budapest demanding her resignation.

Shortly following Novak's resignation, Hungary's former Justice Minister Judit Varga also resigned from public office.

"I take political responsibility for countersigning the President's decision. I am withdrawing from public life, resigning my parliamentary mandate, and stepping down as the head of the list for the European Parliament," Varga said on her social media page.

Varga was minister of justice when Novak signed the controversial pardon.

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"Katalin Novak and Judit Varga have made a responsible decision, which we respect," Mate Kocsis, head of the parliamentary group of the ruling Fidesz party, reacted on his Facebook page to their resignation.

People gather in front of Sandor Palace, office of the Hungarian President, in Budapest, Feb 10, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Facebook Thursday that he had submitted a constitutional amendment on behalf of the government to prevent a pardon from being granted to perpetrators of crimes committed against minors.

"There shall be no mercy for pedophiles," Orban said.

Elected to office by the Hungarian parliament in 2022, Novak has been the country's first female president and also the youngest ever to hold the mostly ceremonial position.

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