A man accused of posing as a specialist and offering quack herbal remedies to cancer patients has denied charges of 12 counts of homicides and 14 attempted homicides in his opening testimony, saying that he is a man of God who believes in faith healing.
“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,” 49-year-old Nikos Kontostathis told the court.
“I never promised that anyone would recover from terminal illness with herbal treatments,” he said.
Asked why he introduced himself as ‘Dr Kontos’ to patients seeking his help, Kontostathis claimed that his was only a crime of omission as the rumor that he was an oncologist had been started by someone else.
“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, referring to the monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece where he claims to have learned herbal remedies from monks.
The defendant also denied making a profit from his ‘treatments,’ saying that any money given to him by patients or their families was donated to Mount Athos.
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.
The trial began in November 2021.