Turkish navy officers resign in protest at court ruling

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Senior Turkish navy commanders have resigned in protest at a court ruling against some military officers, media say. According to Today's Zaman newspaper, Turkish Coast Guard Commander Vice Admiral Atilla Kezek, Coast Guard Commander Rear Admiral Sami Orguc, and five other high-ranking navy officers resigned on Monday. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Appeals issued the verdict and approved the convictions of 237 military officers for "plotting to overthrow the government" of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2003 in an action called Operation Sledgehammer. On September 21, 2012, a Turkish court sentenced three military officers -- Cetin Dogan, Ozden Ornek, and Ibrahim Firtina -- to 20 years in prison each for plotting to overthrow the government. In December 2012, Navy commander Nusret Guner resigned in protest at the case. "The target... was not the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK], but rather the Turkish Naval Forces. The rate of arrested officers is around 10 percent in the land and air forces, while it is 80 percent in the naval forces," Guner said. The investigations into Operation Sledgehammer and another alleged coup plot, known as Ergenekon, are the most prominent cases that Erdogan's government has pursued against military officials. The Ergenekon investigation dates back to 2007 when a cache of explosives was found in the home of a former military officer. It led to the arrest of hundreds of people, including senior military officers. The Turkish government says the Ergenekon organization was planning to stage a military coup by spreading chaos and fear across the country.

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