Turkish education chief cleared of charges

September 8, 2000

A parliamentary commission has cleared the head of Yok, Turkey's higher education authority, of intimidating rectors and misusing his power.

Kemal Guruz and other Yok members were accused by a special parliamentary investigative committee of intimidating several university rectors into leaving their positions and of administrative irregularities.

The committee's investigations continued for several months and numerous university staff, including rectors, were interviewed. The committee concluded that Dr Guruz and several members of the Yok's executive council should face charges.

But a commission, chaired by education minister Metin Bostancioglu, rejected the charges. According to Mr Bostancioglu, "members agreed unanimously that the accusations against Guruz are not based on objective evidence, nor are they realistic".

The commission refused to hear evidence from rectors who had allegedly been forced to quit. Mr Bostancioglu said that it was unnecessary as they had already been interviewed by the inquiry team.

The rejection of the charges will come as a relief to Dr Guruz, who has faced calls to quit following a row with the new president over the appointment of rectors.

Yok was created by the military after it seized power in 1980. It has faced criticism from university staff and politicians of all persuasions for its centralised powers and its ban on religious dress at universities.

Legislation to reform Yok and strip it of many of its powers is expected in the coming parliamentary session.

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