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German education minister faces plagiarism probe

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January 22, 2013 04:09 PM EST | AP

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BERLIN — A German university will formally investigate allegations that the country's education minister plagiarized parts of her doctoral thesis, which explored the formation of conscience.

A committee of academics at Duesseldorf's Heinrich-Heine University voted Tuesday to begin the probe after hearing the results of a preliminary investigation into whether Annette Schavan failed to properly cite passages of her 1980 thesis in philosophy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed Schavan, who denies the allegations first raised by an anonymous blogger.

But the committee said it was compelled to investigate the claims "regardless of the person or her position."

Merkel's former defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, resigned from his post in 2011 after it emerged he copied large parts of his doctoral thesis.