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.
The court convicted 330 military officers for plotting to topple the Turkish government back in 2003, including the country' s former air and naval forces commanders.
Meanwhile, it also sentenced 78 suspects to 18 years, including retired army commander Ergin Saygun, retired generals Bilgin Balanli and Engin Alan, who was elected to the parliament in the latest general elections in June 2011.
According to the semi-official Anatolia news agency, the court sentenced 214 suspects to 16 years in prison and 36 suspects were acquitted.
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 were other atrocities aiming to shake public confidence in the government.
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.