BUCHAREST - Romania's new Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Friday ordered a probe after researchers from Japan, Israel and Taiwan accused his education minister of plagiarism.
Ponta asked the Romanian Academy, the country's highest scientific body, "to have a group of specialists analyse as fast as possible the accusations against" Ioan Mang, adding: "If these accusations are proved to be true, the minister will leave."
The researchers accused Mang of copying large swathes of their work in scientific papers on information technology.
The Liberal-Democratic Party (PDL), which returned to opposition last week after a no-confidence vote, earlier also accused Mang of plagiarism, charges he denies as politically motivated.
The controversy took on an international dimension when Romanian media published the researchers' allegations.
"I got many emails that brought to my attention that Mr. Ioan Mang ... plagiarised a manuscript of mine, as well as papers of other people. Indeed this is a case of plagiarism," Eli Biham, the dean of the Computer Science Department from the Technion Institute in Haifa, Israel.
In an email sent to Romanian researcher Razvan Orasanu and published by the Hotnews news site, Chu Hsin Lin of Taiwan's University Tunghai said that "most contents" of a work signed by Mang "are copied from our paper" with other scientists.
Japanese IT specialist Takeshi Shimoyama made a similar allegation.
The National Ethics Council will also investigate two claims of plagiarism against Mang, the president of the Authority for Scientific Research, Dragos Ciuparu, told AFP.
The scandal comes after the new Social-Democrat prime minister was forced to drop his first candidate for the education portfolio after she was accused of plagiarism.
Allegations of plagiarism recently caused Hungarian president Pal Schmitt and Germany's defence minister Theodor zu Guttenberg to resign.