A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former US special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a blunder-filled beach attack aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro, the AP reports. Lawyers for the former Green Berets, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, said they were barred from the secretive jailhouse proceedings Friday night in what they consider a violation of their constitutional rights to a defense. Maduro's chief prosecutor announced the surprise decision late Friday night. "THEY ADMITTED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACTS," Tarek William Saab announced on Twitter, adding that proceedings will continue against dozens of other defendants accused of assisting in the May 3 raid. He did not offer details.
"Operation Gideon" was launched from makeshift training camps in neighboring Colombia and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while more than 60 more were jailed. Ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who operated a Florida-based security firm called Silvercorp USA, claimed responsibility for the failed attack and had hired his two former army buddies to prepare a small cadre of deserting Venezuelan soldiers living at the makeshift camps. Venezuelan prosecutors have ordered his arrest. Goudreau is believed to be in the US, where he also is under investigation for possibly violating arms trafficking laws in connection to the botched incursion. Denman and Berry, both decorated former US service members, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism.
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