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Ex-prosecutor, wife fleeing Turkey’s crackdown perish in Aegean

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A former public prosecutor and his wife, a former court clerk, died after a speedboat carrying them overturned in the Aegean Sea as they were trying to flee to Greece to avoid a government-led crackdown in Turkey, Greek media outlets reported on Friday.

Two other former judges and one smuggler in the speedboat were able to survive, according to the Greek media. The incident, which is thought to have been caused by excessive speed, took place northeast of the Greek island of Kos on Thursday night, according to the Greek coast guard authorities.

The three other people in the boat were rescued by the Greek coast guard, while the man and the woman appeared lifeless as they were taken out of the water. They were pronounced dead at a hospital in Kos.

The couple, identified only by the initials İ.G. and E.G., along with the two other surviving judges, identified as M.Ç. and İ.T.A., were among the thousands of civil servants who were expelled from public service in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in the country in July 2016, according to the Kronos news website.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, thousands of people have fled Turkey since the coup attempt due to the massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government against alleged members of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. Many have tried to illegally flee Turkey as the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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