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Romanian PM plagiarised PhD: university

Romanian premier Victor Ponta. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)

Romanian premier Victor Ponta. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)

Published Jul 20, 2012

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 Bucharest - An ethics commission at the University of Bucharest on Friday announced that it had found that Prime Minister Victor Ponta had committed plagiarism in his PhD thesis.

The verdict of the commission contradicted that of a council set up by the education ministry, which on Thursday cleared the centre-left premier's name after a first finding against him in June.

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According to the university panel, about a third of the pages in the 2003 thesis, which was about the International Criminal Court, were directly copied from other writers.

“This massive plagiarism cannot be explained by different editorial rules” held by Ponta to apply in 2003, the commission found.

“Rules of good conduct existed in 2003, they in fact existed for more than 200 years,” said panel president Marian Popescu.

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“This is a political decision, handed down by a commission set up especially for me,” Ponta responded Friday, quoted by the Mediafax news agency. “It's the only commission which did not invite me to express my point of view.”

Popescu said that rules had provided in 2003 for “correctly citing passages produced by other authors, using inverted commas and footnotes.”

The way Ponta's thesis was presented “bore witness to the temptation to copy,” he added.

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University dean Mircea Dumitru announced that he intended to submit the report to the institution's senate, which awarded Ponta's doctorate and which can propose that it be withdrawn.

The final decision rested with the ministry of education, Dumitru said.

On Thursday, the national council of ethics, whose make-up was changed by the education ministry shortly before Ponta's government took power in May, stated that his thesis “respected the academic requirements” in force in 2003.

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When challenged in June by an academic commission, Ponta denied the allegations, saying rules in force in 2003 did not require using quotation marks when reproducing parts of other authors' works as long as they were mentioned in the bibliography. - Sapa-AFP

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