‘Baron Cut-and-Paste’ pays to avoid plagiarism charges

German prosecutors said Wednesday they dropped a plagiarism probe against a former defence minister and mooted successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel after the multi-millionaire made a donation to charity.

'Baron Cut-and-Paste' pays to avoid plagiarism charges
Photo: DPA

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, once the most popular figure in Merkel’s cabinet, resigned on March 1 after his doctorate was rescinded for plagiarism, earning the aristocrat the nickname “Baron Cut-and-Paste.”

Now prosecutors in the southern city of Hof said they had closed their case against Guttenberg, also savaged in the press as “zu Googleberg,” after he donated €20,000 ($26,800) to a children’s cancer charity.

The practice is relatively common for relatively minor legal infractions.

The 39-year-old was accused of violating copyrights after it emerged that swathes of his doctoral dissertation on constitutional law were lifted directly from other works.

The prosecutor’s office said it had received 199 criminal complaints against zu Guttenberg, who is currently living in the United States with his family, but only one came from an author whose work was allegedly stolen.

Prosecutors had pored over the dissertation looking for evidence of plagiarism but concluded that only “23 text passages were found to be copyright violations under criminal law.”

“That is why a court and the public prosecutor’s office concluded that a payment of €20,000 for a charity organisation would obviate the public interest in a criminal prosecution,” it said.

Zu Guttenberg, once seen as the most promising up-and-coming politician in Merkel’s conservative alliance, agreed to stop using his doctor title as the scandal emerged early this year.

He is to publish a new memoir entitled “Unsuccessful, For Now” next week amid media speculation about a potential political comeback at the next scheduled general election in 2013.


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101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor