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Updated: March 1, 2011 17:00 IST

German Defence Minister resigns over plagiarism row

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German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg leaves after a news conference where he announced his resignation in Berlin on Tuesday.
AP
German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg leaves after a news conference where he announced his resignation in Berlin on Tuesday.

Germany’s Defence Minister, a rising star in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the country’s most popular politician, resigned on Tuesday over allegations he plagiarised his doctoral thesis.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told reporters it was the “most painful step of my life,” but he felt that he could no longer carry out his duties as Minister amid the intense debate surrounding the work and his person.

Mr. Guttenberg admitted last months making “grave mistakes” in his 2007 thesis and gave up his academic title of “Dr.” but insisted he did not intentionally copy the work.

Following that, Bayreuth University formally removed his academic title in order to uphold the institution’s standards, which he said Mr. Guttenberg had “seriously violated” by failing to sufficiently credit the source of his work.

But the pressure continued to grow, with the scandal dominating the country’s news coverage, despite polls showing the majority of Germans backed him.

On Monday, some 23,000 German academics joined the rising chorus of people demanding his resignation, sending Ms. Merkel a joint letter protesting her decision to keep Mr. Guttenberg on.

“I was always ready to fight, but have to admit I have reached the limit,” Mr. Guttenberg told reporters at the Defence Ministry.

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