A Turkish court has sentenced three former generals to life in prison, in the trial of hundreds of military officers accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government, the first ruling from several cases targeting the army.
In the two-year trial of officers plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government, 326 other officers were also convicted on Friday.
The court said the three generals, Çetin Dogan, a former first army commander; Ibrahim Firtina, a former air force commander and Ozden Ornek, a former naval force commander admiral would however only serve a 20-year prison sentence because they were unsuccessful in their bid to topple the government.
Thirty-six officers were acquitted in the case, which has underlined civilian dominance over the once all-powerful military in Turkey.
The case is wrapped up at the court in Silivri, near Istanbul, which heard on Thursday the final testimonies of the suspects in the so-called “Sledgehammer” trial, named after a 2003 military exercise.
Prosecutors had demanded up to 20 years in prison for the 365 military officers in the case, which concerns alleged army plans to bomb historic mosques in Istanbul and initiate conflict with neighbouring Greece to facilitate a military coup.
The defendants argued that the alleged plot was a military exercise regularly held by the army, and questioned the authenticity of some documents presented as evidence.