There is no statute of limitations on plagiarism, the head of Belgrade University, Rector Ivanka Popovic said on a talk show on Sunday evening.
“A doctoral thesis written 100 years ago can still be analyzed just as the authenticity of a painting by an artist can be analysed,” Popovic said on the Impression of the Week (Utisak Nedelje) talk show on Nova S TV, responding to criticism of demands to review Finance Minister Sinisa Mali’s doctoral thesis which is alleged to have been plagiarized.
The review process was started by both the University School of Organizational Sciences (FON) where Mali did his doctorate and the University Professional Ethics Committee which has not made a ruling. Initial claims of Mali’s plagiarism were made in 2014. Student activists of the 1 in 5 Million organization locked themselves into the Rectorate building for 12 days, demanding that the Rector request Mali’s dismissal and set a deadline for the Ethics Committee to rule on the thesis.
Drago Hiber, a former Chairman of the Ethics Committee said earlier that reviews of a doctorates cannot be limited to the period after the review rules were introduced in 2016. “Anyone raising the retroactive issue should ask themselves if Belgrade University allowed plagiarism before the existing rules were introduced,” Hiber told Danas daily commenting Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s claims that the review of Mali’s doctoral thesis was being done under the 2016 rules even though it was completed in 2013. Hiber recalled that plagiarism was the most serious ethics violation before the rules were adopted and that Belgrade University had an ethics committee.