7 Medical Professionals to Be Charged in Death of Soccer Icon Diego Maradona
Maradona's autopsy said that the World Cup winner's heart was twice its normal size.
Seven medical professionals in Argentina who were caring for soccer legend Diego Maradona before his November 2020 death are being charged with murder, according to reports.
Maradona's death initially sparked a manslaughter probe, the New York Post reported. However, it was upgraded to murder after a damning investigation showed his care was “plagued by deficiencies and irregularities,” officials told Agence France-Presse.
The prosecutors' office in San Isidro, Argentina, which opened an investigation days after Maradona's death, have requested to a judge that those individuals indicted not be permitted to leave the country, ESPN reported.
If found guilty, those accused could face between 8 to 25 years in prison.
“After so many injustices, the case has come full circle,” a source from the San Isidro Attorney General’s Office told Agence France-Presse.
Among those to be charged are Leopoldo Luque, the neurosurgeon who performed a successful brain operation on the player in October to remove blood clots from his brain, and psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, who treated Maradona. The two have denied any wrongdoing, ESPN reported.
Leopoldo Luque lashed out at reporters in November when the investigation was initially opened and said he was being made a “scapegoat.”
“You want to know what I am responsible for? For having loved him, for having taken care of him, for having extended his life, for having improved it to the end,” the doctor said to Agence France-Presse after his offices were raided. He insisted there was “no medical error.”
The prosecutors' office appointed a medical board to determine if there was evidence of culpable homicide from Maradona's medical team, ESPN reported.
In a shocking report obtained by ESPN, the board said that Maradona's medical team that was looking after the man, who some say was the greatest soccer player ever, prior to his death acted in an "inappropriate, deficient and reckless manner," and left him "to his own devices."
Two nurses, a nurse coordinator, a doctor and a psychologist are also among the charged, ESPN reported.
"The action of the health team in charge of treating DAM (Diego Armando Maradona) was inadequate, deficient and reckless," said the medical board report, which was shared with Reuters by a source close to the investigation in April.
The report added that Maradona had become seriously unwell and was dying for around 12 hours before his death at around midday on November 25, 2020, ESPN said.
"He presented unequivocal signs of a prolonged agonizing period, so we conclude that the patient was not properly monitored from 12:30 a.m. on 11/25/2020," the report added.
The investigation into Maradona’s death was prompted by his family, who blamed his poor condition and ebbing health on those looking after him following his brain surgery, the New York Post reported.
Maradona’s autopsy, which was released in December, says that Argentine soccer legend had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his death last month, ESPN reports.
Initial reports said that Maradona, who passed away last month at 60, “died in his sleep of acute pulmonary edema, a build-up of fluid in the lungs, because of congestive heart failure,” ESPN reports. Maradona’s death came two weeks after he returned home from the hospital following brain surgery.
The autopsy also revealed that the former Napoli star’s kidneys and liver were badly damaged, and that his heart weighed roughly twice as much as the average person's, Argentine newspaper Télam said, citing forensic doctors, according to Business Insider.
According to Business Insider, Télam said that the autopsy did reveal that there were drugs present which are used to treat depression and anxiety.
The death of Diego Maradona shocked the world as the former Napoli playmaker passed away just weeks after getting brain surgery in his native Argentina. The life of the controversial figure captivated the world both on and off the field from the late 1970s when he started playing until his untimely death.
The iconic soccer player was born into poverty in the shantytowns outside Buenos Aires. When he was 8 years old, a scout from the local team Estrella Roja signed him and by the time he was 15, he played for the major club Argentinos Juniors.
Maradona later signed with major Argentine club Boca Juniors before going to Europe, where he played for Barcelona in Spain’s La Liga. After two unsuccessful seasons at Barcelona, he transferred to Napoli in Italy’s Serie A, where he helped the Southern Italian club win two titles.
During the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he helped Argentina win their second trophy.
In 1990, he brought his country back to the World Cup finals but they lost to West Germany.
Maradona became a controversial figure in 1992 when he faced a 15-month ban from soccer after testing positive for cocaine use.
By the 1994 World Cup, Maradona fought to return to the Argentina national team but later he failed a drug test and was kicked out of the tournament.
He retired from soccer in 1997 after he returned to his favorite team, Argentina powerhouse Boca Juniors.
During his time as a both a player and retired civilian, Maradona publicly battled alcohol and drug use.
In 2010, Maradona coached the Argentina national soccer team in South Africa. Between 2018 and 2019, he coached Mexican second division Dorados di Sinola. His time with the team was documented in the Netflix series “Maradona in Mexico.” In the series, Maradona openly talks about his substance abuse and remorse for things he had done.
Following Maradona's passing, the Italian city of Naples and the Argentine city of Buenos Aries essentially shut down to mourn the beloved but controversial sports figure. Soccer teams around the world each paid a moment of silence before a game in the days following his sudden death.
Current Argentine soccer legend and Barcelona star Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona after scoring a goal during a match by revealing a 1986 Newell's Old Boys jersey under his Barca kit that the late footballing icon gave him when he was a little boy in Argentina.
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