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Lama Rod describes himself as a Black Buddhist Southern Queen. He wants to free you from suffering

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Lama Rod describes himself as a Black Buddhist Southern Queen. He wants to free you from suffering
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Lama Rod describes himself as a Black Buddhist Southern Queen. He wants to free you from suffering

2024-04-21 23:47 Last Updated At:23:50

ROME, Ga (AP) — Instead of traditional maroon and gold Tibetan Buddhist robes, Lama Rod Owens wore a white animal print cardigan over a bright yellow T-shirt with an image of singer Sade, an Africa-shaped medallion and mala beads — the most recognizable sign of his Buddhism.

"Being a Buddhist or a spiritual leader, I got rid of trying to wear the part because it just wasn’t authentic to me,” said Owens, 44, who describes himself as a Black Buddhist Southern Queen.

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Lama Rod Owens holds his Buddhist mala beads made of lava rock used for prayer and meditation while at his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

ROME, Ga (AP) — Instead of traditional maroon and gold Tibetan Buddhist robes, Lama Rod Owens wore a white animal print cardigan over a bright yellow T-shirt with an image of singer Sade, an Africa-shaped medallion and mala beads — the most recognizable sign of his Buddhism.

Lama Rod Owens stands for a portrait outside of his childhood church, The Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Today Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens stands for a portrait outside of his childhood church, The Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Today Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

The sun sits behind the Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia on Sunday, March 31, 2024. This was the local parish Lama Rod Owens attended as a child. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

The sun sits behind the Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia on Sunday, March 31, 2024. This was the local parish Lama Rod Owens attended as a child. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens sits in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens sits in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens poses for a portrait with his beard covered in flowers in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. His latest book is entitled "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens poses for a portrait with his beard covered in flowers in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. His latest book is entitled "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister and mother of Lama Rod Owens, shows her robes hanging in her home on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister and mother of Lama Rod Owens, shows her robes hanging in her home on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister, listens to her son, Lama Rod Owens, at her home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister, listens to her son, Lama Rod Owens, at her home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens lies in the yard of his childhood home while he poses for a portrait in Rome, Georgia,on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens lies in the yard of his childhood home while he poses for a portrait in Rome, Georgia,on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

“For me, it’s not about looking like a Buddhist. It’s about being myself,” he said at his mother’s home in Rome, Georgia. "And I like color.”

The Harvard Divinity School -educated lama and yoga teacher blends his training in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism with pop culture references and experiences from his life as a Black, queer man, raised in the South by his mother, a pastor at a Christian church.

Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness.

On the popular mindfulness app Calm, his wide-ranging courses include “Coming Out,” “Caring for your Grief,” and “ Radical Self-Care ” (sometimes telling listeners to “shake it off” like Mariah Carey). In his latest book, “ The New Saints,” he highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering.

“Saints are ordinary and human, doing things any person can learn to do,” Owen writes in his book, where he combines personal stories, traditional teachings and instructions for meditations.

“Our era calls for saints who are from this time and place, speak the language of this moment, and integrate both social and spiritual liberation,” he writes.“ I believe we all can and must become New Saints.”

But how? “It’s not about becoming a superhero,” he said, stressing the need to care for others.

And it’s not reserved for the canonized. “Harriet Tubman is a saint for me,” he said about the 19th century Black abolitionist known for helping enslaved people escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad. “She came to this world and said, ‘I want people to be free.’”

Owens grew up in a devout Baptist and Methodist family. His life revolved around his local church.

When he was 13, his mother, who owns a baseball cap that reads: “God’s Girl,” became a United Methodist minister. He calls her the single greatest impact in his life.

“Like a lot of Black women, she embodied wisdom and resiliency and vision. She taught me how to work. And she taught me how to change because I saw her changing.”

He was inspired by her commitment to a spiritual path, especially when she went against the wishes of some in her family, who — like in many patriarchal religions — believed a woman should not lead a congregation.

“I’m very proud of him,” said the Rev. Wendy Owens, who sat near her son in her living room, decorated with their photographs and painted portraits.

“He made his path. He walked his path, or he might have even ran his path,” she said. “Don’t know how he got there, but he got there.”

A life devoted to spirituality seemed unlikely for her son after he entered Berry College, a nondenominational Christian school. It didn’t deepen his relationship with Christianity. Instead, he stopped attending church. He wanted to “develop a healthy sense of self-worth” about his queerness, and was dismayed by conservative religious views on gender and sexuality. He felt the way that God had been presented to him was too rigid, even vengeful. So, in his words, he “broke up with God.”

His new religion, he said, became service. He trained as an advocate for sexual assault survivors, and volunteered for projects on HIV/AIDS education, homelessness, teen pregnancy and substance abuse.

“Even though I wasn’t doing this theology anymore, what I was definitely doing was following the path of Jesus: feeding people, sheltering people.”

After college, he moved to Boston and joined Haley House, a nonprofit partly inspired by the Catholic Worker Movement that runs a soup kitchen and affordable housing programs.

There, he said, he met people across a range of religious traditions — “from Hinduism to Christian Science to all the denominations of Christianity, Buddhists, Wiccans, Muslims. Monastics from different traditions, everyone.”

A Buddhist friend gave him a book that helped him find his spiritual path: “Cave in the Snow,” by Tibetan Buddhist nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.

The British-born nun spent years isolated in a cave in the Himalayas to follow the rigorous path of the most devoted yogis. She later founded a nunnery in India focused on giving women in Tibetan Buddhism some of the opportunities reserved for monks.

“When I started exploring Buddhism, I never thought, ’Oh, Black people don’t do this, or maybe this is in conflict with my Christian upbringing,’” Owens said.“ What I thought was: ’Here’s something that can help me to suffer less. ... I was only interested in how to reduce harm against myself and others.”

At Harvard Divinity School, he was again immersed in religious diversity — even a Satanist was there.

“What I love about Rod is that he’s deeply himself no matter who he’s with,” said Cheryl Giles, a Harvard Divinity professor who mentored him and who now considers him one of her own teachers.

“When I think of him, I think of this concept of Boddhisatva in Buddhism, the deeply compassionate being who is on the path to awakening and sees the suffering of the world and makes a commitment to help liberate others,” said Giles.

“And I love,” she said, "that he’s Black and Buddhist.”

Through Buddhism, mindfulness and long periods of silent retreats, Owens eventually reconciled with God.

“God isn’t some old man sitting on a throne in the clouds, who’s, like, very temperamental,” he said. “God is space and emptiness and energy. God is always this experience, inviting us back through our most divine, sacred souls. God is love.”

His schedule keeps him busy these days — appearing in podcasts and social media, speaking to college students and leading meditations, yoga and spiritual retreats across the world.

So much inspires him. He wrote his latest book listening to Beyonce and thinking about the work of choreographer Alvin Ailey. There’s Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. He loves Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.” And pioneering fashion journalist Andre Leon Talley of Vogue magazine, who he says taught him to appreciate beauty.

“I want people to feel the same way when they experience something that I talk about or write about,” Owens said. “That’s part of the work of the artist — to help us to feel and to not be afraid to feel. To help us dream differently, inspire us and shake us out of our rigidity to get more fluid.”

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Associated Press journalist Jessie Wardarski contributed to this report.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Lama Rod Owens holds his Buddhist mala beads made of lava rock used for prayer and meditation while at his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his Buddhist mala beads made of lava rock used for prayer and meditation while at his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens stands for a portrait outside of his childhood church, The Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Today Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens stands for a portrait outside of his childhood church, The Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Today Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

The sun sits behind the Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia on Sunday, March 31, 2024. This was the local parish Lama Rod Owens attended as a child. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

The sun sits behind the Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia on Sunday, March 31, 2024. This was the local parish Lama Rod Owens attended as a child. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens sits in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens sits in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens poses for a portrait with his beard covered in flowers in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. His latest book is entitled "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens poses for a portrait with his beard covered in flowers in the yard of his childhood home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. His latest book is entitled "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister and mother of Lama Rod Owens, shows her robes hanging in her home on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister and mother of Lama Rod Owens, shows her robes hanging in her home on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister, listens to her son, Lama Rod Owens, at her home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wendy Owens, a United Methodist Minister, listens to her son, Lama Rod Owens, at her home in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens holds his latest book, "The New Saints," which highlights Christian saints and spiritual warriors, Buddhist bodhisattvas and Jewish tzaddikim among those who have sought to free people from suffering on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Rome, Georgia. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens lies in the yard of his childhood home while he poses for a portrait in Rome, Georgia,on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Lama Rod Owens lies in the yard of his childhood home while he poses for a portrait in Rome, Georgia,on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Owens, a self-proclaimed Black Buddhist Southern Queen, grew up Christian and was raised by his Methodist minister mother. Today, he is an influential voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers, respected for his work focused on social change, identity and spiritual wellness. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

KALAMATA, Greece (AP) — Nine Egyptian men went on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations.

Outside the courthouse, a small group of protesters clashed with riot police as the proceedings got underway. There were no reports of serious injuries but two people were detained.

The defendants, most in their 20s, face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges over the sinking of the “Adriana” fishing trawler on June 14 last year off the southern coast of Greece.

International human rights groups argue that their right to a fair trial is being compromised as they face judgment before an investigation is concluded into claims that the Greek coast guard may have botched the rescue attempt.

More than 500 people are believed to have gone down with the fishing trawler, which had been traveling from Libya to Italy. Following the sinking, 104 people were rescued — mostly migrants from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt — and 82 bodies were recovered.

The protesters could be heard inside the packed courtroom as presiding judge Eftichia Kontaratou read out the names of the nine defendants.

Defense lawyer Spyros Pantazis asked the court to declare itself incompetent to try the case, arguing that the sinking occurred outside Greek territorial waters. “The court be turned into an international punisher,” Pantazis told the panel of three judges. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres last year described the shipwreck as “horrific."

The sinking renewed pressure on European governments to protect the lives of migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach the continent, as the number of people traveling illegally across the Mediterranean continues to rise every year.

Lawyers from Greek human rights groups are representing the nine Egyptians, who deny the smuggling charges.

“There’s a real risk that these nine survivors could be found ‘guilty’ on the basis of incomplete and questionable evidence, given that the official investigation into the role of the coast guard has not yet been completed,” said Judith Sunderland, an associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch.

Authorities say the defendants were identified by other survivors and the indictments are based on their testimonies.

The European border protection agency Frontex says illegal border detections at EU frontiers increased for three consecutive years through 2023, reaching the highest level since the 2015-2016 migration crisis — driven largely by arrivals at the sea borders.

Police guard outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police guard outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

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