A university ethics panel decided on Thursday that Serbia's finance minister plagiarised parts of his doctoral thesis and said it should be withdrawn.

Belgrade University's ethics committee decided unanimously to recommend withdrawing the thesis submitted by Sinisa Mali in 2013, said university dean Ivanka Popovic, according to Beta news agency.

She said the panel decided the minister had "acted in a non-academic manner" and had "included paragraphs and excerpts from other authors' texts in the text of his doctoral thesis without quoting their names".

Mali has previously denied the accusations and has been supported by President Aleksandar Vucic.

The ethics committee will now send its recommendation to the university's senate to make a final decision. 

Allegations of plagiarism were first made in 2014, with an academic from the European Business School in Germany Rasa Karapandza pointing out the plagiarised sources -- which included the website Wikipedia.

Karapandza told Serbian media in October that studying at the University of Belgrade "would become meaningless" if Mali's doctorate thesis were to be upheld.

Last year a group of academics formally requested that the university annul his doctorate.

However, the procedure of reviewing the doctorate took so long that a group of students linked with the opposition locked themselves inside a university building in September for 12 days in protest.

The number of doctorate awarded in Serbia has increased significantly, from 206 people in 2007 to more than 2,000 by 2016.



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