A Greek man accused of fabricating medical qualifications to pose as a doctor, whose bogus cures allegedly resulted in three deaths, fell under suspicion after a real medic spotted his inability to properly sterilise his hands.
The 47-year-old was arrested in Athens on charges of manslaughter and fraud this week.
“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 [at] first because he was introduced with very important studies from America, New York.”
The suspect allegedly administered quack cures to at least 45 people, many suffering from cancer and other incurable conditions.
Police say that using the pseudonym Nicholaos Kontos, he posed variously as a US-educated paediatric oncologist, a surgical neurophysiologist, an executive member of the International Red Cross and a researcher at a renowned medical centre in Switzerland.
Media outlets reported that he also presented himself as a physiotherapist and a doctor with links to the Vatican. Alleged victims were found through relatives seeking solace in monasteries and on the autonomous republic of Mount Athos. Treatments were described as diet-based and included courses of vitamins, organic herbs and cannabis.
Among the three people believed to have died at his hands were two children aged 14 and 16, and a 76-year-old man whose combined medical bills reportedly exceeded €58,000.
A LinkedIn page cited by the daily paper Protothema as belonging to the suspect described his career as being “focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of cancer growth and progression”.
The search was initiated after distraught relatives reported their suspicions to police 13 months ago. A doctor also raised the alarm, alerting authorities after the man appeared ignorant of the procedure for sanitising his hands before surgery.
Skai TV said on Thursday that he had eventually been traced to a luxurious villa in a leafy suburb south-east of central Athens after police followed a school bus carrying his two children. He allegedly told police: “I’ve been waiting for you,” when they arrived at his door.
The man has not yet been publicly identified, but personal data and pictures of him are expected to be circulated in the coming days as police hope other victims who might recognise him will come forward.
Investigations are under way into whether the suspect was aided and abetted by clinics he allegedly collaborated with.