Coronavirus: man suspected of threatening virologist released on bail

A 35-year-old man who threatened a member of the health ministry’s epidemiological team over the phone was released on Thursday after posting a €2,000 bond.

As part of his conditional release pending trial, the suspect must report to a police station twice a week.

The man was arrested late on Wednesday, after virologist Leontios Kostrikis reported the matter to the police.

In a deposition to police, the 35-year-old admitted to making the threats. But at Nicosia court on Thursday, he did not enter a plea.

The plea hearing will be taking place on May 14. The man is facing the charge of threatening a person’s life, an offence punishable by up to three years in jail.

According to media reports, the man called Kostrikis on his work and mobile phones to threaten him after the scientist announced the US would launch a new vaccine against the coronavirus.

In one of the three phone calls he reportedly left a voicemail saying: “Mr Kostrikis, we know that you are an atheist and a Muslim and you work for the dark forces of Bill Gates, and if we hear you talk again about the vaccine, we will organise and erase you from the background.”

The case emerged on Wednesday afternoon when virologist Kostrikis was absent from the daily media briefing for the new coronavirus cases.