HUNGARY’s president Katalin Novak has resigned – amid outrage after she pardoned a man who helped cover up sexual abuse cases.
Novak cut short a trip to Qatar and quit in an address on state TV – just a week after the scandal engulfed Hungary’s government.
It was revealed that Novak pardoned “Endre K” after he was convicted of hiding a string of child sex abuse cases at a state-run children’s home.
Endre K had been given a three-year jail sentence in 2018 for pressuring victims to retract their allegations against the home’s director.
The director was jailed for eight years after abusing at least ten children between 2004 and 2016.
Novak pardoned the man and 24 other people during Pope Francis’s visit to Hungary last year.
In her address today, Novak said: “I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest for many people.
“I decided in favour of clemency in April last year in the belief that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of the children entrusted to him.
“I made a mistake. The pardon and the lack of reasoning was suitable to trigger doubts over the zero tolerance that applies to paedophilia.
“I apologise to those I have hurt and to any victims who may have felt I am not standing up for them.
“As head of state, I am addressing you for the last time today. I resign from the office of president of the republic.”
More than a thousand protesters had rallied outside Novak’s office in Budapest after news site 444.hu revealed the bombshell.
Many protesters left behind teddy bears with their mouths taped shut.
Novak, 46, became Hungary’s first female president in 2016 after serving as minister for families.
She is a key ally of the country’s far right prime minister Viktor Orban, who has often framed LGBT people as a threat to Hungary’s children.
Orban has also been accused of corruption and of muzzling journalists and the opposition since he was elected in 2010.
Widely seen as the EU’s most pro-Russian leader, he recently folded after threatening to block a £43billion aid package for Ukraine.
On Thursday Orban put forward a constitutional amendment stripping the president of the power to pardon crimes against children.
Former justice minister Judit Varga also quit today after it was revealed she signed off the pardon.
Rising star Varga had been tipped to lead the list for Orban’s Fidesz party in this year’s EU elections.