Two high-profile suspects in the north’s fake diploma scandal investigation appeared in court in Morphou again on Thursday.

Investigations are still centring around the town’s now infamous Cyprus Health and Social Sciences University (KSTU), with the university’s 30-per-cent shareholder and secretary-general Serdal Gunduz, and Turkish public broadcaster TRT Cyprus journalist Sefa Karahasan, who obtained a doctorate from the university, the pair in court.

Gunduz stands accused of preparing forged documents, putting them into circulation, and encouraging others to do the same.

Police deputy inspector Namik Kemal Baz said in court that eight people who had received fake degrees from the university had either gained promotions or pay rises in public sector jobs off the back of their degrees.

In addition, he said, Gunduz had “threatened” the university’s vice rector and forced him to sign degree certificates which had been obtained through illegal means.

Gunduz’s lawyer Doga Zeki objected to the police’s request that his client remain in custody, with Gunduz having been initially arrested at the beginning of March.

At the time, the court had ruled that Gunduz was a flight risk as he holds residence permits in Greece and Russia, and thus he was held in custody for two months.

With those two months up, the same court has returned the same verdict, and he will now be held behind bars for another three months pending a trial.

Later, Sefa Karahasan appeared in court for the second time, with the police’s representative in court saying that his degree certificate had been signed not by the university’s rector, but by someone else.

Karahasan was handed a 100,000TL (€2,883) bail with two guarantors ordered to sign bonds worth 750,000TL (€21,619) each.

Karahasan’s arrest was brought onto the agenda at in Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday, with opposition party CHP deputy leader Gokhan Gunaydin criticising the government for appointing Karahasan as TRT’s Cyprus correspondent.

He said, “the diplomas of the people you appointed to high-ranking positions are fake. The doctorate of Sefa Karahasan, who you appointed as TRT’s Cyprus correspondent, is fake. Are you not competent enough to appoint a correspondent who is reliable, does not forge documents, and who is not a cheat?”

He added, “the fake diploma case is not limited to this man only. Those of you who have held very high-level positions have opened universities and are selling diplomas at a rate of knots.”

“You give them equivalence here and people are getting degrees they do not deserve at all,” he said.

Karahasan graduated from the KSTU with a doctorate in business management in May last year, though the police’s representative at his first hearing in court on Monday insisted that he “would have graduated in 2025” if the programme had been carried out under normal circumstances.

Karahasan had been employed at the university since 2020, and reportedly told the court that due to this, he “could have had a degree in my hand within a day” if he wanted to.

According to newspaper Yeni Duzen, police officer Ali Erdelhun told the court Karahasan had told the police he had “done everything together with Serdal Gunduz”.

News website Haber Kibris said Erdelhun had added that Karahasan’s grade was “suspicious” given that he had “received the doctorate without attending any classes”.

Newspaper Ozgur Gazete said Karahasan “could not remember” the subject of his thesis.

The “fake diploma scandal” rocked the north’s education system in the opening months of the year, with multiple high-profile figures having been arrested, and many more being accused of complicity.

Revelations centred on the KSTU, where police found that degrees were being handed out to people within days or in some cases hours of them registering as students.

In April, Turkey’s higher education council (Yok) announced its intention to prepare a report on the state of the north’s education system with the scandal unfolding.

The north’s ‘education minister’ Nazim Cavusoglu had said during a visit to the island by a delegation from Yok that he hopes the north can “turn this problem into an advantage”.

Former ‘education minister’ Kemal Durust was one of the many arrested, having allegedly fraudulently obtained thousands of euros by sending fake invoices to the university in question. His wife, a high-level civil servant, was also arrested, accused of having received a fake diploma.