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Three former Turkish generals sentenced to 20 years in historic coup trial: TV

09-22-2012 06:45 BJT

ISTANBUL, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Three retired Turkish generals, including former air force and navy commanders, were sentenced here Friday to 20 years in prison on coup charges, Turkey's NTV news channel reported.

The Silivri court in the Turkish largest city of Istanbul sentenced retired Air Force Commander Ibrahim Firtina, retired First Army Commander Cetin Dogan and retired Navy Commander Ozden Ornek to 20 years in prison in the Sledgehammer coup case, according to the report.

They were initially sentenced to life imprisonment, but the terms were later reduced to 20 years as the court said they were unsuccessful in their bid to topple the government.

Thirty-four suspects were acquitted of all charges in the coup case. The trial has a total of 365 suspects.

Relatives of the sentenced generals were seen collapsing after hearing the verdict.

Prosecutors had demanded 15-year to 20-year jail sentences for the 365 defendants, 364 of whom are serving or retired officers.

Of the 365 suspects, 250 are behind bars and the rest are outside of custody pending trial. Friday's verdict session was the 108th hearing in the trial.

Four defendants delivered their final statements on the last day. The court was adjourned before announcing the verdict.

Security was tight outside the courtroom on the final day of the hearing. People who entered the building were frisked and searched with the help of detector dogs.

About 500 court viewers, 60 members of the press and 30 lawyers were allowed in.

The Sledgehammer plot was first publicly discussed on Jan. 20, 2010, when the Taraf daily said a group of generals had conspired to overthrow the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party and had devised a plot titled the Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan.

Taraf claimed that one of the plans devised by the generals was bombing the Fatih Mosque, one of Istanbul's biggest mosques, during a busy Friday prayer, and there are other atrocities aiming to shake public confidence in the government.

The plot was devised in 2003, according to the report.

The indictment against the suspects was accepted on July 19, 2010, and 196 suspects, either retired or active-duty military officers, were initially on trial.


Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: Xinhua

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