The north’s former ‘interior minister’ Ziya Ozturkler on Tuesday denied having taken bribes from a university amid continued investigations and arrests in relation to the ongoing “fake diploma scandal”.

Accusations against Ozturkler were raised in ‘parliament’ by opposition party CTP ‘MP’ Dogus Derya, who said it had been alleged that he had been given an envelope stuffed with cash by the City Island University’s owner Talip Emiroglu in a restaurant car park.

It has been claimed that they money was placed in an envelope in his car boot. It is claimed that the reason for giving it was to help him get permission to open a medical school. The police are obliged to investigate this matter,” Derya said.

She then asked if a police investigation had been made and if Ozturkler had been invited to make a statement to the police.

‘Education minister’ Nazim Cavusoglu quickly asserted that he has no knowledge of the accusations, saying “if there is any basis for the allegations she is making, she should share it. If not, she should not make such assertions here.”

Ozturkler vehemently denied the allegations, saying that he had not been handed an envelope stuffed with cash, but a book.

“While [Emiroglu] was handing me the books he had written in a public restaurant, unfounded claims were made based on photographs which had been taken,” he said.

He added that he himself had asked the police to investigate the matter in its entirety to prove his innocence, adding, “I wish Dogus had asked me about this.”

He also said that he does not “have the authority” to make decisions regarding the opening of medical schools in the north.

“Let me tell you which rector or chairman of the board I have a dirty deal with. I just served my country. I don’t have a single penny I made for my own personal benefit,” he said.

He added, “my accounts are clear, my assets are clear, everything is clear. There is nothing for which I cannot be held accountable. I made all kinds of statements to the police.”

“As for Dogus, you have not met Ziya Ozturkler yet. You obviously don’t know my past or who I am. As a representative who does research, is it so simple to speak from the parliamentary podium without doing any research or asking any questions? Shame on you,” he said.

The City Island University, located in Famagusta, was most recently in the headlines in November when its 38-year-old rector was arrested for allegedly having stolen nearly €20,000 from deposits made by students.

Earlier, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar met with a delegation from the Turkish Council of higher education (Yok), who are visiting the island in light of the current crisis.

Tatar stressed the importance of Yok’s support offered to strengthen the north’s higher education accreditation authority (Yodak) in its ability to inspect universities and added that the north’s ‘education ministry’ should “work in harmony” with both bodies.

He also said steps should be taken “against south Cyprus’ moves to undermine higher education” in the north and added that “a strong and reliable education system must exist in order to protect and increase our higher education’s brand value.”

Yok deputy chairman Haldun Goktas told Tatar work is underway to implement Turkey’s higher education information management system. Yoksis, in the north.

For this to be implemented, he said, “technical work needs to be done to enter student and graduate information into the system and share it with the necessary institutions.”