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Substantial lifting

June 26, 2011

Scientists in Germany convinced Silvana Koch-Mehrin to step down from the research committee of the European Parliament. She briefly joined the committee earlier in the week - after losing her Ph.D. due to plagiarism.

Silvana Koch-Mehrin
Koch-Mehrin admitted her thesis was 'no masterpiece'Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Germany's latest plagiarism scandal continues to haunt member of European Parliament Silvana Koch-Mehrin, six weeks after revelations about her doctoral thesis forced her resignation as the body's deputy speaker.

On Saturday, Koch-Mehrin bowed to pressure from Germany's scientific community, vowing to give up her position on the parliament's research committee.

The Alliance of German Scientific Organizations (AdW), an umbrella organization encompassing top research groups including the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, demanded Koch-Mehrin vacate the seat after her doctorate was revoked earlier this month by Heidelberg University due to accusations she lifted "substantial parts" of her 2000 thesis.

"Acts of plagiarism in scientific work are anything but a minor offense," the AdW said in a statement Saturday. "The AdW therefore deems it unacceptable for Ms. Koch-Mehrin to represent Germany at the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy."

Koch-Mehrin, who only became a full member of the research committee after she was stripped of her doctorate, said Saturday in Brussels that she would switch out of the research committee and onto a different committee.

Her spokesman told reporters that "Koch-Mehrin takes the AdW's statement very seriously."

Calls for Koch-Mehrin's resignation

Criticism of Koch-Mehrin also rose from within the ranks of her Free Democratic Party (FDP). In an interview with the daily Die Welt, FDP member Heiner Kamp said her "switch to full committee membership at this point in time shows a lack of judgment."

Guttenberg touches his brow
A popular politician, Guttenberg resigned after a plagiarism scandalImage: picture alliance/dpa

Meanwhile on Saturday, the chief of the European Parliament's Socialist delegation, Martin Schulz, called for Koch-Mehrin to step down from office altogether. He told the German newspaper Rheinische Post that the scandal had done damage to the European Parliament's reputation.

Koch-Mehrin shocked diplomatic circles earlier in the week by switching seats with fellow FDP European parliamentarian Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, also accused of plagiarism, to move up from alternate membership on the research committee to full member status.

Since the scandal broke out, Koch-Mehrin has openly admitted her doctoral thesis was "no masterpiece" - but has called her alma mater into question for revoking her title 11 years after they awarded it "in full knowledge of all the glaring weaknesses."

She is the latest German politician to lose her doctorate, since former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned on March 1 after his Ph.D. was rescinded due to plagiarism that earned him the nickname "zu Googleberg."

Author: David Levitz (AP, AFP, dpa)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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