An ethical commission of the Bucharest University announced on Friday it has found that Romanian PM Victor Ponta's 2003 doctoral thesis included plagiarized text. This is the third verdict in the case, after two other academic bodies analyzed the text and made their own decisions on charges that Ponta was involved in an act of plagiarism: a first said he "copy-pasted" large amounts of text, while a second said he complied with the rules of 2003. The charges were first made public by Nature magazine last month and have since drawn huge media attention. The head of Romanian government has been quoted by Spanish El Pais newspaper as saying he would resign if a commission finds him guilty of plagiarism.
- UPDATE PM Ponta reacted to the Bucharest University commission's verdict on Friday by saying the decision was "politically motivated". He was quoted by Mediafax news agency saying that the University commission was created "ad-hoc" especially for him and that the only recognized decision was the one taken yesterday by another commission, according to which this was not a case of plagiarism.
An Ethical Commission of the Bucharest University, which is a legally entitled body to give a verdict in the case and which said it consulted law experts, has found that PM Victor Ponta plagiarized his 2003 doctoral thesis. It found that the thesis included large amounts of text copied from other works without proper quotation. The commission said improperly quoted or copied text could be found on 115 of a total of 297 pages of Ponta's doctoral work.
The verdict comes a day after another Ethical Commission, but one under the control of the Education Ministry, found that Ponta was not to be blamed of plagiarism, considering that he complied with all the doctoral thesis rules valid in Romania in 2003. The Education Ministry-controlled Commission has claimed it was the only institutional structure entitled to give a verdict in Ponta's case.
In late June, another body, a National Council which validates academic titles and diplomas - the best legally entitled forum to give a verdict - had found Victor Ponta was involved in an act of plagiarism. But its recommendation at the time that Ponta's doctoral title should be withdrawn was not taken in consideration by the Education Ministry - which is under Ponta's authority - because that Council was being restructured at the very moment it was in session to analyze the case.
When learning that the Bucharest University ethical commission would analyze his thesis, Ponta said the move was aimed at keeping the case under media attention as it was fueled by the now-suspended President Traian Basescu. Basescu, at the time, was in office and was involved in a struggle with Victor Ponta on who should represent Romania at the European Council. Basescu has since been suspended and faces a referendum called by the governing alliance to remove him from office.
Ponta had called on the Ethical Commission of the Education Ministry to analyze the text. The Commission eventually found on July 19 that he did not plagiarize in his doctoral thesis, according to the rules of 2003. But the Bucharest University commission on Friday said the ethical norms were far older than 2003, going back two centuries ago.