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Cheating pupil acquitted

ITALY. A secondary school pupil who took the education ministry to court after being disqualified from an exam in which he was caught cheating has won his case.

The judges of the Counsel of State, which rules on administrative matters, have established that copying from crib notes is not an offence.

They confirmed the interpretation made by a local court that, since the candidate had only just taken out the notes when caught, and had not yet handed in his paper - the maths component in the maturita school-leaving exam - no fraud had taken place. The pupil's paper, they concluded, was therefore valid.

The ruling has been criticised by the Italian headteachers' association as an example of judicial interference in purely scholastic matters. Giorgio Rembabo, the president of the association, is concerned that it will be interpreted by exam candidates as confirmation that copying is never wrong, even when you get caught.

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