The court building in Silivri, near Istanbul
The court building in Silivri, near IstanbulAFP photo

A Turkish court on Friday gave life sentences to three ex-generals accused of plotting to overthrow the government, NTV television reported.

The sentences of the three were then commuted to 20-year terms on the grounds that the alleged plot failed, the report said.

The three chief suspects in the alleged 2003 coup plot, including Cetin Dogan, former commander of the First Army and dubbed the "mastermind" behind the plot, will each serve 20 years in prison, the private television channel said.

The landmark verdict is the first from a series of trials over alleged plots by the once-dominant Turkish army, responsible for four coups in half a century.

AFP reported that the two-year-long case wrapped up at the court in Silivri, near Istanbul, which heard Friday the final testimonies of the last suspects in the so-called "Sledgehammer" trial, named after a 2003 military exercise.

Last month, the Turkish military retired all 40 generals and admirals currently jailed facing charges of conspiring against the government, in a further sign of greater civilian control of the once all-powerful army.

The list included all 40 commanders jailed in connection with the "Sledgehammer" as well as the so-called "Ergenekon" trial.

A year ago, Turkey’s entire top military command resigned in a row with the government over the generals jailed for the coup plot.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)