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Guttenberg guilty

May 6, 2011

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg's former university has confirmed plagiarism allegations against him. The University of Bayreuth finds that Germany's former defense minister, 'deliberately cheated' in his doctoral thesis.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Guttenberg resigned his post and gave up his doctoral titleImage: picture alliance/dpa

Germany's former defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, "deliberately cheated" in his doctoral thesis, the University of Bayreuth in the state of Bavaria announced on Friday.

Guttenberg found himself in the midst of a plagiarism scandal in February after allegations surfaced that he had copied large segments of his doctoral thesis. Guttenberg resigned his government position and had his doctoral title revoked, but asserted that any plagiarism was inadvertent.

In a statement, the University of Bayreuth revealed that Guttenberg did indeed knowingly cheat in his doctoral dissertation.

"After a thorough investigation of allegations against his dissertation, the committee finds that obviously Guttenberg gravely violated the standards of good academic practice and deliberately cheated."

Plagiarism evident throughout

The three-month investigation found that plagiarized material was evident throughout the dissertation, which compared constitutional developments in the European Union with those in the US.

Bayreuth University asserted that in many cases, Guttenberg "usurped" large passages from other people's work, slightly altering the words and not accrediting the ideas to the original author.

Guttenberg on newspapers
The plagiarism scandal has been an embarassment to the German governmentImage: dapd

The full 40-page report on the case, which is due to be published on Wednesday, is also expected to also criticize Guttenberg's doctoral supervisor, Peter Häberle, and the second assessor of the thesis, Rudolf Streinz.

The panel said that they found no evidence of outstanding ideas in Guttenberg's work, meaning that it did not deserve a first class award.

Commenting on the case, Ulrike Grote, a spokesperson for university affairs for the Green Party, said that Guttenberg's assertion that the plagiarism was accidental was "particularly deplorable."

"This shows that until the last, Guttenberg has developed no guilt or insight into his actions. This has discredited him as a candidate for future political office," she added.

Criminal charges

Guttenberg, a baron, and married to a descendant of former German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, was voted Germany's most popular politician during his career. At 39, he rose quickly up the political ladder and many even tipped him as a future chancellor. Since resigning his position, however, Guttenberg has taken a break from public life.

Two months ago, prosecutors in the Bavarian city of Hof launched an investigation into allegations of copyright infringement, which can carry a prison sentence of up to three years, or a fine.

Author: Charlotte Chelsom-Pill (dpa, AFP)

Editor: Nicole Goebel