SILIVRI, Turkey (Reuters) - A Turkish court sentenced on Friday three former generals to life in prison, the first sentences in the two-year trial of 364 officers accused of plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
The court said the three would only serve 20-year prison sentences because they were unsuccessful in their bid to topple the government. Two other retired generals and one serving general were also sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The court acquitted 34 officers in the case, which has underlined civilian dominance over the once all-powerful military in Turkey.
The Turkish army has traditionally played a dominant role in politics, staging three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pushing the country’s first Islamist-led government from office in 1997.
Its authority has been reined in sharply since Erdogan first came to power nearly a decade ago and the trial has been seen as a show of strength by a government that has emerged from its shadow.
The “Sledgehammer” conspiracy is alleged to have included plans to bomb historic mosques in Istanbul and trigger conflict with Greece to pave the way for an army takeover.
Prosecutors had demanded 15-20 year jail sentences for the 365 defendants, 364 of them serving and retired officers.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Nick Tattersall, editing by Diana Abdallah