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German minister accused of plagiarism

Annette Schavan denied the charges.

Annette Schavan denied the charges.

BERLIN — Germany’s education minister said Wednesday that she would not resign after a university found she had plagiarized parts of her thesis but would instead fight the ruling — a major embarrassment for the government in an election year.

Annette Schavan, 57, is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the second minister in her Cabinet to lose a doctorate because of plagiarism. Former defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned in 2011 after it emerged he copied large parts of his thesis.

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Duesseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University voted Tuesday to remove Schavan’s doctorate after a thorough review of her 1980 thesis undertaken after an anonymous blogger raised plagiarism allegations.

On an official trip to South Africa, Schavan, who has always denied the allegations, said she would fight the ruling.

‘‘I will not accept the University of Duesseldorf’s decision and I will take legal action against it,’’ she said in Johannesburg.

Merkel’s spokesman said the chancellor had been in contact with Schavan and ‘‘has the fullest confidence in her.’’

But the university’s decision prompted calls from opposition politicians for Schavan’s resignation because her ministry is responsible for education and science.

‘‘She needs to step down because she can no longer be regarded as a role model and is harming science,’’ said Andrea Nahles, the general secretary of the opposition Social Democrats.

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