Romanian Panel Says Premier Ponta Didn’t Plagiarize Thesis

A Romanian ethics board set up by the Economy Ministry said Prime Minister Victor Ponta didn’t plagiarize his doctoral thesis, contradicting a ruling made by another panel last month.

The board said Ponta followed rules from 2003 when he completed his PhD, according to a statement published on its website today. A third panel set up by the University of Bucharest, which granted Ponta his degree, is due to deliver a report on the plagiarism allegations tomorrow around noon, according to an e-mailed statement.

“In my opinion,” the ethics board’s report “means that this is a closed case,” Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu said in a speech broadcast on public television TVR Info.

Ponta, 39, became the eastern European country’s third premier this year on May 7. He is also at least the third political leader in Europe to face questions about preparations for a doctoral title.

Plagiarism accusations prompted former Hungarian President Pal Schmitt to resign in April after losing his doctoral title in sports, while German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg quit his Cabinet post in March last year amid allegations of plagiarism.

Allegations Published

Ponta said Romania’s ethics committee is the only panel entitled to rule on the plagiarism allegations published in Nature magazine and Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Documents provided by an unidentified source to Nature showed that more than half of Ponta’s 432-page dissertation on the International Criminal Court for the doctorate he received in 2003 from the University of Bucharest was copied, without proper reference notes.

Ponta said on June 19 that the only mistake in preparing his thesis was that he didn’t put the source of the information in the footnotes of the page, though they were included in the work’s bibliography.

The ethics board said it “noted that the bibliographical references were mainly mentioned at the end of the thesis.”

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