Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Teamwork, perseverance and planning put AP ahead on a crucial court case over a deadly shipwreck

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. AP PHOTO / THANASSIS STAVRAKIS

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Thinking outside the box ensured newsperson Derek Gatopoulos was inside a courtroom in southern Greece and able to alert the news of the judge dismissing a crucial case against nine Egyptians accused of causing one of the Mediterranean’s deadliest shipwrecks, while photographer Petros Giannakouris and chief photographer Thanassis Stavrakis shot exclusive visuals of the clashes that erupted outside. 

The 2023 tragedy shone a spotlight on the European Union’s strict border policies, and there was intense international interest. With cameras banned from the courtroom, the only way to get the news was to ensure AP was in the room. Gatopoulos, at times keeping his cellphone out of view, managed to stay inside despite several orders by the presiding judge to clear the courtroom of non-essential participants. 

As the judge delivered her decision, Gatopoulos texted bureau chief Elena Becatoros who had an alert prepped, having been tipped off by lawyers about the possibility of the case being dropped. Media without a reporter inside the courtroom had to wait for lawyers to emerge later to learn what had happened.  Detailed planning and foresight meant Giannakouris, operating for video for the day, and chief photographer Stavrakis were outside the courthouse early and were the only international media to shoot clashes between police and protesters. 

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