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Hungarian president announces her resignation

Katalin Novak says she is stepping down in the wake of a scandal after her pardoning of a man involved in child sexual abuse case

BUDAPEST, February 10. /TASS/. Hungarian President Novak is stepping down in the wake of a scandal after granting a pardon to a man involved in a child sexual abuse case.

"I made a mistake," Novak said in a speech broadcast on national television. She added that Saturday was the last day that she was addressing the nation as a President.

All opposition parties in Hungary demanded Novak’s resignation.


Novak’s apologies


Last year, she granted a pardon to a man complicit in a pedophile crime. It was recently reported that a deputy head of a foster care facility, who tried to cover up his pedophile boss that was found guilty of the crime, and who blackmailed one of the minors into recanting the testimony, was released along with other convicts. The pardon was timed to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to Budapest.

"I made a merciful decision that has puzzled and alarmed many people. It is understandable that they want an explanation," Novak said, adding that "the right to grant a pardon may be the most delicate of all, because a person’s fate must be decided based on a plea for pardon and available information."

"Last April I made a decision to grant a pardon believing that the convict had not abused the vulnerability of children of whom he had taken care. I made a mistake as the pardon and the lack of reasoning was suitable to trigger doubts over the zero tolerance that applies to pedophilia," she said. "There is no doubt here, and there can be no doubt. I would have never shown mercy to somebody who, I believe, is physically or mentally molesting children. It was like than then and it is like that now," she said.

Novak offered her apologies to everyone who might have felt hurt and let down by her decision. Novak said that "politics is a tough, sometimes cruel world," but she was delighted to serve her country and people as president.

The situation with Novak has caused serious concern in the Hungarian government. According to sources, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was extremely upset about the steps of the president and her office. In an attempt to somehow quell the scandal, he suggested on February 8 that the parliament make an amendment to the national constitution that would ban pardons for pedophile convicts.