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Man killed in cable car accident turns out to be purge victim

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Memiş Enes Gümüş, a 54-year-old man who was killed in a cable car accident in southern Turkey, has been revealed to have been one of thousands of former judges and prosecutors who were summarily removed from the judiciary in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Gümüş died after a supporting pylon collapsed, causing the people inside the car to plummet into a rocky area.

Seven others who fell, including Gümüş’s wife Kezban as well as their children aged 14 and 17, were injured and are undergoing treatment, according to media reports.

Gümüş was working as a lawyer in the western province of Aydın, and the family was on vacation in Antalya at the time of the incident.

He was one of the thousands of judges and prosecutors who were collectively removed from the judiciary by way of executive decree-laws promulgated during a post-coup state of emergency.

The decree-laws saw the summary removal of more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors in a move that many human rights groups criticized as a renewed assault on judicial independence by the Turkish government that sent a chilling effect on the remaining members of the judiciary.

Most of those who were dismissed subsequently faced criminal charges and imprisonment, typically over their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish authorities of “terrorist activities.”

In recent years the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered several judgments faulting Turkey over the detention of judges and prosecutors.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the 2013 corruption investigations, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the 2023 Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in late October, dropping one place in comparison to the previous year.

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