German Defense Minister renounces PhD for copying but refuses to resign

BERLIN, GERMANY: German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Friday temporarily renounced to his "doctor of laws" degree (PhD) and apologized for copying information on his thesis, the DPA news agency reported.

"The thesis I wrote is not plagiarized and I emphatically reject the accusation," The 39-year-old Defense Minister said.

Guttenberg renounced to his PhD until the ruling on his thesis is issued. He also refused to resign to his position as opposition called before. The minister is popular among the population and is seen as the potential successor of current Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The University of Bayreuth will issue a ruling on Guttenberg's thesis this week. The minister presented his work in 2006 which took him seven years to write. He acknowledged that his thesis contains "errors" in its footnotes.

"Without question it contains errors which upset me more than anybody else. But at no time was there deliberate deception or a deliberate obscuring of sources," Guttenberg added. "If someone feels offended by this or by improper use or non-use of footnotes among 1,300 footnotes on 475 pages, I am sincerely sorry."

Guttenberg vowed to cooperate with an inquiry on his thesis' errors. Opposition social democrats said that despite his apologies, the minister can no longer be trusted and called for his dismissal.

Chancellor Merkel said that she has full confidence in Guttenberg as he was proved his value in overseeing a drastic downsizing of Germany's armed forces. In 2009, he sacked the armed forces chief and last month suspended a naval captain for alleged cruelty to trainees.

German police informed that they have received two complaints against Guttenberg, one for allegedly giving a false oath and the other for criminal breach of copyright. Police said that the first one was not a criminal offense but the other is being studied.


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