ATHENS – A man who prosecutors said posed as a cancer doctor and prescribed herbs, charged with the death of 12 patients and 14 attempted homicides said he never told them using plants as medicine would cure them.
Nikos Kontostathis told a court at his trial he was faith healer and that, “I believed and I still believe that someone can get better by the power of God. I believe that there is a plant to cure every ailment, as God above has said.”
He added that, “I never promised that anyone would recover from terminal illness with herbal treatments,” no explanation yet why it took authorities so long to discover what he was doing or why people kept going to him.
Asked why he introduced himself as ‘Dr. Kontos’ to patients seeking his help, Kontostathis claimed that he kept a ruse that he was a cancer doctor because it was started by someone else, said Kathimerini.
“I made a mistake when my reputation started spreading from Mount Athos. Someone did a search for me and found some other doctor in America with the same name and started telling others it was me. I allowed the rumor to stand because of ego and pride,” he said.
That was in reference to the monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece where he claims to have learned herbal remedies from monks adding that he gave all the money he took from patients and gave it to the monks.
He also sought to clear fellow defendants accused of aiding and abetting, by claiming that they never approached patients on his behalf, but that the patients themselves or members of their families reached out for his help.
In January, it was reported that he demanded cash, however, for fake treatments that didn’t work and examined dozens of people at a monastery instead of his office.
He called himself Nikolaos Kontos but police said his real name is Nikolaos Kontostathis and other media reports said he claimed to also be an ace fighter pilot who scared away Turkish fighter jets.
THE CHURCH CONNECTION
Two men with multiple sclerosis testified at his trial that they sought treatment after meeting him at a monastery in 2016 in Pilo where dozens of people, many holding medical tests, lined up to be checked by him in a special room.
The newspaper said then that one witness, a teacher, said an elderly woman had told her that Kontos had cured a nun of cancer and would cure her too, no indication of any proof being provided.
Kontos gave the woman liquids to consume as treatment, which she said caused her unbearable pain and charged her 3,320 euros ($3,766) which she paid in cash and a second witness said she paid him 30,000 euros ($34,026) for fake treatments, testimony revealed.
He’s accused of fabricating medical qualifications and that his bogus cures allegedly resulted in three deaths, and fell under suspicion after a real medic spotted his inability to properly sterilize his hands, the British newspaper The Guardian said.
“He was introduced to us through the church,” the father of one of the purported victims told Open TV. “The truth is we believed him … first because he was introduced with very important studies from America, New York.”
The son of one of the patients who perished while treated by the defendant, said his father was given juices and various liquids and was persuaded to stop chemotherapy by the fake doctor.
The man, whose father died in 2015 testified that when he asked about the treatment was told that “doctors administer chemotherapy for bribes from the pharmaceutical industry.”
He didn’t say why or his father believed that or allowed the unorthodox treatment that cost them 7,200 euros ($8,167) after being told that the patient would “get back on his feet,” but died after the juice intake caused vomiting, bloating and liquid to gather in the lungs.