Today I resigned from my office as President of Hungary. Thank you for everything to all my friends in all four corners of the world. Hungary🇭🇺 is a wonderful country with marvelous people, a good partner, an even better friend and a reliable ally. I am glad that in the past… pic.twitter.com/j4SdiezAkK
— Katalin Novák (@KatalinNovak_HU) February 10, 2024
Public outcry over the pardon erupted only in the past week. The man she pardoned in April 2023 was sentenced in 2018 to more than three years in prison after being found guilty of pressuring victims to retract their claims of sexual abuse by the director of the children’s home, who was sentenced to eight years for abusing at least 10 children between 2004 and 2016, according to the Associated Press.
In Hungary, the right of individual pardon is exercised by the president of the republic, whose decisions are countersigned by the minister of justice. The presidential pardon is not subject to legal appeal.
“I decided in favor of clemency in April of last year in the belief that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of the children entrusted to him. I made a mistake,” Novák said Saturday. “I apologize to those I have hurt and to any victims who may have felt I am not standing up for them.”
Immediately after the outgoing president’s announcement, the minister of justice, Judit Varga, who countersigned the pardon decision in question, also resigned from the government and announced her withdrawal from public life.
The news came as a thunderclap in Hungary, where Novák and Varga had established themselves over the past two years as emblematic figures in Orbán’s government. But in the long term, this shadow would have discredited the Fidesz party, Novák having built her popularity precisely on the image of moral probity associated with her, and the pro-family and pro-child policies implemented when she was head of the Ministry for Family Affairs between 2020 and 2021.
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