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Bucharest
July 1, 2022
POLITICS

Ponta cleared of plagiarism charges

The prosecutors of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) yesterday dropped all charges of plagiarism against PM Victor Ponta, sources with the Public Ministry announced, quoted by Mediafax. According to the sources, the decision was made under article 10 letter a of the Criminal Procedure Code, which stipulates that “criminal probe cannot be started, and if it started it cannot be exerted anymore if the deed does not exist.”
The ICCJ resolution that drops all charges against Victor Ponta, under the aspect of the crime provided by article 141 of Law 8/1996 on copyright and related rights, which was issued on May 16. Under article 141, “it represents a crime and is punished with prison from three months to five years or a fine between RON 25,000,000 and RON 500,000,000 the act of a person that claims without right the quality of author of a work or the act of the person which publicly advertises a work under another name than that decided by the author.” The denunciation to the prosecutor’s office of the ICCJ, in this case, was made on 22 August 2012, by the president of the New Republic, Mihail Neamtu, Adrian Papahagi and Minel Augustin Ofiteru. The denunciators claimed that, out of the 292 pages of the work ‘Responsibility in the humanitarian international law’, published by the ‘Universul Juridic’ publishing house in 2010, a work co-authored by Victor Ponta and Daniela Coman, “a number of 113 pages do not represent an original own creation and represent a fraudulent appropriation of the intellectual creation product of four authors.” In March 2013, prosecutors demanded the Romanian Office for Intellectual Rights (ORDA) to make an expertise of the book which led to the accusation of plagiarism against the prime minister. In an interview with HotNews.ro, Razvan Casmoiu, the head of the Expertise Department of ORDA said: “We completed the expertise and sent it to prosecutors. We ended it last week, I cannot remember the precise day. We wrote what we found out, but I cannot tell you what is written in the document, because it represents a piece of evidence in this file and the data about what is in the file can only be given to you by prosecutors. One of the pieces of evidence used by prosecutors is our expertise, but I don’t think that it is the only piece of evidence. The expertise was conducted during March – May.”
Two months ago, the premier had been accused of plagiarism by the magazine ‘Nature,’ under the signature of Quirin Schiermeie, as well as by the publication Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an article signed by Karl-Petter Schwartz. At that time, ‘Nature’ wrote that it accessed documents that would prove the fact that more than half of Ponta’s doctoral thesis on the Criminal International Court contains copied texts. On June 29, the National Council of Attesting University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU), the first commission that analysed the thesis of the premier, ruled that Victor Ponta plagiarised 85 pages of the doctoral thesis. The interim minister of Education of that time, Liviu Pop declared the decisions of CNATDCU as void, because the 14-member quorum had not been met, in order to make the session statutory.
The Ethics Commission of the University of Bucharest (UB) decided in July 2012 that the premier plagiarised 115 of the 303 pages of the doctoral thesis, which “goes against the principles of ethics, integrity and good conduct in the research activity.” Premier Victor Ponta said, at that time, that the decision of the Ethics Commission, which he named ‘an ad-hoc commission’ is ‘political’ and the only decision recognised is that of the National Authority of Scientific Research.
The July decision of the UB Ethics Commission was announced one day after the National Ethics Council informed that Victor Ponta obtained the title of Law Sciences PhD in agreement with the laws existing in 2003 and the allegations of plagiarism in his doctoral thesis cannot be justified.
Although one could expect that, after the verdict was made public, the Senate of the University of Bucharest gives a verdict over Ponta’s diploma, on July 25 UB postponed for September the decision with this regard. Under the Law of Education, the rector of the university may propose to the Ministry of Education to cancel the PhD diploma, if proven that the person has plagiarised.

Ponta, also cleared in the row over the representation in the European Council
of last June
The prosecutors of ICCJ informed Premier Victor Ponta that, although he “willingly” usurped the attributions of the president of Romania by attending the summer European Council of Brussels in 2012, no criminal probe will start against him because he did not usurp “the quality of president.” The document that informed the prime minister bears the stamp of the Cabinet of the prime minister with the date of 12 March 2013, but he was made available to the press Tuesday, at the beginning of the weekly meeting of the Executive and one day before Ponta would attend the European Council of Brussels, based on a mandate given by President Traian Basescu, Mediafax reports. Prosecutors also dropped all charges against the former ministers of Foreign Affairs, and European Affairs, Andrei Marga and Leonard Orban, who had been accused of forging official documents, usurping official qualities and committing intellectual crimes.  The three were also cleared of the charges of errors in doing their office attributions, because “the deed is not incriminated by the criminal law,” the document explains.

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