JUSTICE

Possible plagiarism in DNA Chief Prosecutor’s doctoral thesis, under scrutiny again

*PSD MP Sebastian Ghita denounced himself at the Prosecutor’s Office: “I took part in falsifying the special examination report on Codruta Kovesi’s doctoral thesis.”

 

The possible existence of plagiarism in National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi’s doctoral thesis is the topic that has sparked a firestorm in the public space, after PSD Lower Chamber lawmaker Sebastian Ghita filed a denunciation at the General Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday. In it, he claims that along with several state officials he took part in falsifying the special examination report on Chief Prosecutor Kovesi’s doctoral thesis.

“I’ve decided to show up at the General Prosecutor’s Office and do something that weighs heavily on me and I believe this is the reason for all that has happened to me in the past two years. I came to file a denunciation which concerns the way in which I and several state officials took part in falsifying the special examination report on Laura Codruta Kovesi’s doctoral thesis,” Lower Chamber lawmaker Sebastian Ghita stated when arriving at the General Prosecutor’s Office.

The lawmaker claims that the DNA Chief Prosecutor knew about it.

“The moment the issue concerning Laura Codruta Kovesi plagiarising her doctoral thesis was raised, in order to protect her at that moment, because we all thought she was doing Romania good, we took the decision for that report, on whose basis the ministry’s council decided that the thesis was not plagiarised, we took the decision to change it, to falsify it. Several state officials and I. She [Laura Codruta Kovesi] knew what we were doing. (…) That commission did nothing and that report came out and said that Laura Codruta Kovesi’s thesis was not plagiarised and I can tell you that the commission never convened and the report was written at the Romanian Government,” Sebastian Ghita added.

The Education Ministry’s Legal Directorate approved, in October 2012, the National Ethics Council’s (CNE) decision according to which Laura Codruta Kovesi did not plagiarise her doctoral thesis.

CNE’s members analysed a notification filed on 25 May 2012 by the Political Investigations Group, as well as the information, data, documents and evidence at hand, noting that Laura Codruta Kovesi’s thesis observed all academic and scientific research norms.

CNE’s experts established, on 27 July 2012, that General Prosecutor Codruta Kovesi did not plagiarise her doctoral thesis. According to CNE representatives, the experts took the decision relatively easily, since the documents presented were very clear, in the sense that the doctoral thesis did not contain plagiarised elements.

“I published before I was General Prosecutor, under the name of Lascu, because I was not married. All the articles I published on this activity segment (combatting organised crime – editor’s note) and which appear in the doctoral thesis were published in the ‘Dreptul’ journal, which is not available online precisely in order to protect copyright. A great part of the paragraphs they claim I plagiarised from persons who wrote them in 2008-2009 are paragraphs I published ever since 2002. The persons they claim I plagiarised were actually quoting me in their book, quoting these articles that I had published previously,” Kovesi stated back then.

The evidence analysed by CNE experts proved that the paragraphs concerned, which appear in books published in 2008, had been published by Codruta Kovesi six years earlier, in the ‘Dreptul’ journal. Subsequently, Kovesi used those paragraphs in her doctoral thesis.

On 18 May 2012, the Political Investigations Group (GIP), led by Mugur Ciuvica, had claimed that General Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi plagiarised her doctoral thesis.

Kovesi started her doctoral thesis in 2004, and was appointed General Prosecutor at the end of September 2006.

 

Anticorruption Chief Prosecutor Kovesi says didn’t plagiarise her doctoral thesis

 

The chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi says her doctoral thesis belongs to her entirely and that she did not plagiarise, adding that the slanderous statements of the “persons investigated by the DNA” have made the object of the notices lodged with the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM).

“If a notice of any nature (denunciation, self-denunciation, complaint) is lodged, it is the prosecutors’ obligation to check and clarify all aspects notified, in accordance with the legal provisions, and take the legal measures. As regards my doctoral thesis ‘Fighting organized crime through criminal law provisions,’ I want to specify that it is a work that belongs to me entirely and that I committed no plagiarism,” says Kovesi, according to a DNA release posted on Tuesday on the website of this institution.

The DNA Chief Prosecutor adds that ever since 2012 she has specified she didn’t plagiarize her doctoral thesis, from the very appearance in the public space of the “slanderous affirmations of this kind.”

“The defamatory affirmations of the persons that are investigated by the DNA, of an unprecedented vehemence this year, have made the object of the notices lodged with the Superior Council of Magistracy which found that they damage the image and credibility of the judiciary. Moreover, concerning earlier stances adopted by Ghita Sebastian Aurelian, where he made allegations regarding the criminal investigations handled by prosecutors, the DNA notified this year both the head of the Prosecutor’s Office with the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ, Supreme Court of Romania) and the Superior Council of Magistracy,” adds Kovesi.

 

CNATDCU will not take notice following Sebastian Ghita’s denunciation

 

The National Council for the Certification of University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU) will not take notice following the denunciation filed by Sebastian Ghita, which claims that alongside several other state officials he falsified a report on Laura Kovesi’s doctoral thesis in order for it to show that the thesis was not plagiarised.

“We do not take notice. Any sound case file is sent to the Executive Union for the Financing of Tertiary Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI), and from there it reaches us and only then we discuss it,” CNATDCU President Viorel Barbu stated for News.ro.

Ponta: I will state absolutely everything I know if summoned by prosecutors

Ex-Premier Victor Ponta refused to comment on the denunciation filed by lawmaker Sebastian Ghita, stating that he will state absolutely everything he knows about this topic if summoned by prosecutors.

“If they summon me as part of a criminal investigation I will state absolutely everything I know,” Ponta told Mediafax.

 

Basescu: Kovesi threatened an official that arrests will follow if doctoral thesis inquiry resumes

 

Ex-President Traian Basescu stated on Tuesday evening that he knew about the falsification of the document, Sebastian Ghita and Mihnea Costoiu being among those involved, “with the knowledge of Victor Ponta, Prime Minister at the time.”

Basescu stated that Laura Codruta Kovesi threatened a state official that he will be arrested if the inquiry in the doctoral thesis resumes.

“In 2016, Ms. Kovesi took the liberty to use the official phone line to call up a Romanian dignitary and threaten him that arrests will follow if the inquiry into her doctoral thesis resumes. I’m constrained by the risk that the said dignitary would deny this, I’m just signalling the gesture, I’m not naming names. He could be an Education Minister; he could be a person holding a different high office… Official phone lines are not tapped. They are being used to discuss state secrets too, not just Ms. Kovesi’s interests. (…) I’ve had information, but not evidence, since 2014. Today I confirm that I knew that Mihnea Costoiu wrote the report clearing her of plagiarism and that they hastily looked all over the country for some signatures,” Traian Basescu stated on Romania TV.

 

President Iohannis: It’s strange, for the time being it looks like a media scandal to me

 

Asked for his opinion on the denunciation, President Klaus Iohannis said he considers it “strange” and that those with legal prerogatives have to do their duty.

Likewise, Iohannis pointed out that to the extent this falls under the President’s prerogatives, he will hold talks with those involved. Concerning Laura Codruta Kovesi’s possible resignation, the President pointed out that for the time being this looks to him like a media scandal. “If it turns out to be more than that, we’ll talk more,” the Head of State concluded.

Asked why does he think the denunciation was filed now, Iohannis said: “I can give you an answer to this, in a straightforward manner. Because of the elections campaign. (…) There are others employed by the Romanian state to verify these things. When we have a conclusion we will be able to comment. Otherwise this is just talk.”

 

Dragnea on Ghita’s denunciation: He’s crazy or he’s telling the truth. I’m detached

 

Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea says that Sebastian Ghita, his former party colleague, is either telling the truth “or is crazy and is strapping on an explosive belt” when stating that he was involved in falsifying the examination report on DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi’s doctoral thesis.

“There are two options. First: he is crazy, he is strapping on an explosive belt and blowing himself up without any kind of evidence or proof. Or makes things up. The second option is that everything he is saying is true and, if he wants to go through with this, we will all watch this carefully,” Dragnea said in a talk-show.

Asked whether he knew anything about this, considering that in 2012 he held the second highest office in PSD, Dragnea answered negatively. “I don’t know. Just like any person watching TV, I am looking forward to seeing what will happen next. As any Romanian citizen, [I believe] the relevant institutions should investigate and establish the truth. I’m telling you, maybe I seem out of line, I’m watching this event fairly detached, it doesn’t affect me very much. I’ll abstain from saying what I believe,” Liviu Dragnea added.

The PSD President labelled Ghita’s denunciation as “an interesting, savoury action” and promised that if he is ever summoned by prosecutors he will not hesitate to contribute to truth being established.

 

Gorghiu: Ghita’s denunciation is a bluff, I consider it a diversion

 

National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Alina Gorghiu considers Sebastian Ghita’s denunciation “a diversion” carried out by persons who have “certain capacities in case files.”

“If I were to translate what Mr. Ghita is saying, he’s saying this: I, a regular citizen, have committed such a crime with the support of the Premier incumbent at that time. I believe this initiative is based on a direct interest and capacity he has in various criminal cases, nothing more. It’s just a bluff, something I believe we will unfortunately comment on far too much or more than necessary. We will see what the institutions analysing this denunciation will decide. But, I repeat, I consider it a diversion,” Alina Gorghiu stated in a talk-show.

 

Former Education Minister Liviu Pop, in office at the time DNA Chief Prosecutor’s thesis was analysed: I’m not nervous, I’ll state what I stated before too

 

Former Education Minister Liviu Pop stated for Mediafax that he is not nervous after Sebastian Ghita levied his accusations in what concerns Laura Codruta Kovesi’s doctoral thesis.

“Sebastian Ghita’s denunciation cannot implicate me because what I did back then, in May 2012, was based on the poor activity of the National Ethics Council. I asked the universities to make proposals for a new Ethics Council, a Council that became operational during that period. And the main reason I replaced the members of the Council consisted of the unexplainable delays in addressing the petitions registered. I don’t think my successor can be implicated either, because the “ball” is there, in the court of the special commissions and of the Council, where the specialists reside, and the Minister has no power. (…) I am not nervous at all, I stated everything I knew in 2012, when I was accused of making changes. I have nothing more to state. If they summon me I will go and state the same things I stated in 2012 and anytime I was asked about this ethics commissions’ topic,” former Education Minister Liviu Pop stated for Mediafax.

In 2012, Liviu Pop changed, through a minister’s order, the membership of the National Ethics Council right before the Council ruled on the Ioan Mang case. The commission was working as part of the National Scientific Research Authority, which was subordinated to the Education Ministry, led by Liviu Pop at the time. According to the legislation, the National Ethics Council was the one tasked with analysing plagiarism cases. The Council ruled that ex-Premier Victor Ponta did not plagiarise his doctoral thesis. The Council issued a similar ruling in Laura Codruta Kovesi’s case, a week later.

 

Group of Cluj-based university professors: Kovesi plagiarised

 

The Group for University Reform and Alternative (GRAUR), based in Cluj Napoca, confirms that prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi plagiarised.

In a press release, the association asks for “the immediate cancellation of the Doctor of Law title conferred to the prosecutor on the basis of a forgery and the drastic and exemplary punishment of all persons who contributed to the fixing and hiding of obvious pieces of evidence with the purpose of aiding and abetting the perpetrator.”

According to the aforementioned source, the plagiarism perpetrated consisted of the copying of authentic works without using citations. Kovesi allegedly copied excerpts from several works without crediting the original authors.

The Group for University Reform and Alternative (GRAUR) is a Cluj-based NGO founded by several university professors who militate for the complete reforming of the education system.

The plagiate.ro portal is a website whose purpose is “combatting plagiarism as a social phenomenon” and is not an official authority capable of issuing a ruling.

 

Journalist Radu Tudor: An anti-DNA group has formed, seeking to destroy Kovesi

 

Journalist Radu Tudor claims that an anti-DNA group has formed, seeking to destroy Laura Codruta Kovesi. Radu Tudor claims that, at least for now, one cannot say that its political leaders are acting in a coordinated fashion, but the possibility cannot be ruled out.

“After DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi green-lighted the investigation into the illegal contributions to Traian Basescu’s presidential campaign in 2009, the anti-Kovesi and anti-DNA group is reacting. The group is made up of persons that have been targeted by DNA investigations ever since Kovesi took over its leadership: Traian Basescu; Sebastian Ghita; Victor Ponta; Gabriel Oprea; Elena Udrea; Dan Adamescu; Ioana Basescu. Although there are some clues pointing to this, I cannot state very clearly whether the aforementioned persons are engaged in a coordinated action, but they are all seriously affected by DNA investigations. Most of them have made harsh statements about DNA Chief Prosecutor Kovesi. The denunciation filed by Sebastian Ghita is a new stage, an explosive stage, in the fratricidal fight between former allies. I am watching this war from the side-lines, to see whose hairdo resists,” Radu Tudor wrote on his personal blog.

 

Ion Cristoiu: How could some earthlings judge St. Jeanne d’Arc of Romania?

 

Based on the evidence published by the press, Kovesi’s doctoral thesis has numerous excerpts that match excerpts from the works of other authors. Analysts say Kovesi is in a situation identical to that of Ponta. Both of their cases showed visible signs of plagiarism, both were initially cleared. It took for Mircea Dumitru, rector of the University of Bucharest, to become Education Minister for the inquiry to start in the case of famous plagiarism cases such as those of Victor Ponta, Gabriel Oprea and Petre Toba.

Analyst Ion Cristoiu also commented on the scandal of the day, being of the opinion that CNATDCU should verify Codruta Kovesi’s doctoral thesis. “But, God forbid! How could some earthlings judge Saint Jeanne d’Arc of Romania?!” the analyst asks. He goes on to present a timeline of events:

“On 18 May 2012, the Political Investigations Group and the Spiritual Militia publicly levied the accusation that Codruta Kovesi plagiarised her doctoral thesis, a thesis she defended at the West University of Timisoara in December 2011. The accusation was backed by a side-by-side comparison of excerpts, with highlighted text. Just like in the case of Victor Ponta’s thesis and of all other thesis later on accused of being plagiarised: Gabriel Oprea, Petre Toba. Codruta Kovesi, General Prosecutor at the time, rejected the accusations and notified the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM). The notification first reached CNATDCU, the body legally tasked with analysing plagiarism cases.”

“On 18 June 2012, the online edition of Nature magazine accused Victor Ponta of plagiarising his doctoral thesis in 2003.”

“On 28 June 2012, the National Council for the Certification of University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU) decided that Victor Ponta plagiarised.”

“Odd! Despite being filed before Ponta’s, Kovesi’s case was not analysed. At that time, Codruta Kovesi was considered member of Traian Basescu’s team. In this context, the press, almost all of it on Traian Basescu’s side, did not address Kovesi’s case. Victor Ponta responded by asking Liviu Pop, USL’s Education Minister, to reject CNATDCU and to transfer the case to the National Ethics Council (CNE). That happened on 29 June 2012. CNE, the new body, convened and decided on 19 July 2012 that Victor Ponta did not plagiarise. After CNE’s Technical Commission had established that.”

“On 27 July 2012, CNE’s Technical Commission established that Kovesi’s thesis was not plagiarised. The same CNE (established by Liviu Pop in order to clear Victor Ponta) convened on 5 September 2012 and decided that Codruta Kovesi’s thesis was not plagiarised. From 29 June 2012 to 2 March 2016, the state officials’ theses were analysed by CNE.”

“On 8 July 2015, CNE decided that Gabriel Oprea did not plagiarise. On 26 November 2015, Petre Toba, accused by the press of plagiarism, turned to CNE to clarify the issue. A scandal started. On 2 March 2016, the Ciolos Government decided, in order to put an end to the scandals, that CNATDCU should be tasked with analysing plagiarism cases. The body was restructured from the ground up, in order for its decisions to no longer be under suspicion. The new body analysed the theses that CNE had whitewashed: Victor Ponta, Gabriel Oprea, Petre Toba. The theses were declared plagiarised. It would have been normal for the new body to analyse Codruta Kovesi’s thesis too, suspected of benefitting from CNE’s good will. (…) It would have been normal for the DNA Chief Prosecutor herself to demand that. Since she claims she did not plagiarise. The new body already has unblemished authority. She didn’t do that however. A catastrophic decision, because the accusations levied in the public space can only be stopped by a decision adopted by the new body. God forbid! How could some earthlings judge Saint Jeanne d’Arc of Romania?!” Ion Cristoiu wrote on his blog.

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