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No more doctor

July 13, 2011

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is the latest in a line of German politicians to be deprived of their doctorate due to plagiarism. The faculty board of the liberal FDP politician's alma mater said half the text was flawed.

FDP politician Jorgo Chatzimarkakis
Mr. Chatzimarkakis is one of several ex-doctor politiciansImage: Petr Stojanovski

A German member of the European Parliament, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, was informed on Wednesday that he had been stripped of his doctoral title, making him the latest in a line of German politicians publicly embarrassed by corroborated plagiarism allegations.

Chatzimarkakis is a member of the executive committee of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), which is the junior partner in the government coalition.

The dean of the faculty at Bonn University - Chatzimarkakis' alma mater - said that the faculty board had unanimously agreed to strip him of his title due to "numerous passages" that were taken from the works of others.

Dean Günther Schulz said further that Chatzimarkakis breached university policy by failing to quote direct passages of other works appropriately; instead of using quotation marks to show that the passage was not written by Chatzimarkakis, he simply used a footnote at the end of the text referring to the work it came from.

"Such a practice gives the impression that it is Chatzimarkakis who is speaking, while in reality texts of other authors are being reproduced."

Bitter, yet relieved

A committee in charge of determining whether Chatzimarkakis was guilty of plagiarism said more than half of the pages of the dissertation contained passages not written by the FDP politician.

"This does not meet the requirements for a doctoral thesis," said Schulz, adding that he "regretted this instance of plagiarism."

Chatzimarkakis, who vehemently denied the allegations from the moment they emerged in May, issued a statement Wednesday saying he found the decision to strip him of his Ph. D. title "bitter."

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Media reports say Guttenberg is heading abroadImage: AP

However, he said he was "relieved" that the university did not explicitly recognize his plagiarism as "intentional."

The stripping of Chatzimarkakis' title comes after European Parliament vice president, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, also from the FDP, stepped down from her position after Heidelberg University found that her dissertation had been plagiarized. Other German politicians currently facing allegations include Christian Democrat Lower Saxony Culture Minister Bernd Althusmann and FDP parliamentarian Margarita Mathiopoulos.

In February, former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was stripped of his doctorate and forced out of office. The popular and glamorous 38-year-old aristocrat had been seen as a likely future candidate to become chancellor.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Michael Lawton