A Turkish court found more than 300 active and retired military officers guilty of plotting to overthrow the nation's Islamic-based government in 2003.
A panel of three judges at the court on the outskirts of Istanbul initially sentenced former air force chief Ibrahim Firtina, former navy chief Ozden Ornek and former army commander Cetin Dogan to life in prison, but later reduced their sentences to 20 years each, because the plot was unsuccessful, according to the Associated Press. The three were accused of masterminding the plot.
Friday's decision came after more than two years of raids, detentions and hearings, with 365 people — including some civilians — put on trial for participating in an alleged plot called Sledgehammer, reported The Wall Street Journal. The defendants denied the charges brought against them by the state and upheld by the court.
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According to the AP, Celal Urgen, an attorney for Dogan, said the defendants planned to appeal the decision, but that there was little hope for success.
"There is no free judiciary here, on the contrary, there is a judicial system that is the backyard of the government," he said in a televised speech after the verdict was announced.
The Sledgehammer conspiracy is alleged to have included plans to bomb historic mosques in Istanbul and cause conflict with Greece to pave the way for an army takeover, noted Reuters. Prosecutors had requested 15 to 20 year jail sentences for the 365 defendants.