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Venezuelan military officers sentenced for plotting coup

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A group of Venezuelan military officers the government accused of plotting to blow up the presidential palace have been sent to prison, officials said Wednesday.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced on Twitter that eight officers had been convicted for their role in a foiled coup attempt. The sentences ranged from five to eight years in prison.

In February, the administration of President Nicolas Maduro accused a laundry list of military officials, opposition politicians and business leaders of plotting to overthrow the South American country's 15 year-old socialist revolution. Among other things, officials accused the plotters of planning to commandeer a military jet to bomb the presidential palace, the defense ministry, and the headquarters of a state television network.

Venezuelan officials said the officers had been conspiring with the United States, but never provided detailed evidence to the public. At the time, the U.S. State Department called the accusation "ludicrous," and said the administration was attempting to distract the public from mounting economic and social woes.

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