However repugnant, let the voices be heard

April 16, 1999

On page 10 we publish an email exchange with the rector of Belgrade University. Here is a glimpse of a university under fire. Disentangling truth from propaganda is hard. Jagos Puric is a Milosevic appointment. He implemented the infamous University Law, a crude attempt to weed out dissident voices from the academic community. In doing so he damaged his institution's international standing in ways more enduring than Nato's bombs and missiles may have done.

Professor Puric's former colleagues at Culham Laboratories, where he was a post-doctoral researcher in the mid-1970s, remember him as a gifted scientist and apolitical. His scholarship is undisputed - he has some 150 publications to his credit and only last year presented a paper to an international conference on his chosen field of plasma physics.

Should The THES give space to even distinguished academics if they implement oppressive laws and support regimes guilty of appalling atrocities? It is our policy to hold our pages open to all views. Publishing them does not imply that we endorse Professor Puric's comments, accept his analysis or condone the actions of his government. We publish so that academics elsewhere can see the defence being deployed by one of their number under circumstances we all hope never to experience.

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