Argentine football icon Diego Maradona received inadequate medical care and was left to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing period” before he died last year, an expert medical panel concluded Friday.
In a 70-page document, the panel stated that Maradona, who succumbed to a heart attack on November 25 at the age of 60, “started to die at least 12 hours before” the moment he was found dead in his bed.
Maradona died just weeks after undergoing brain surgery on a blood clot. A panel of 20 experts was convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor to examine the cause of death and to determine if there had been any negligence.
Maradona’s neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov and psychologist Carlos Diaz are under investigation as well as two nurses, a nursing coordinator and a medical coordinator.
The finding could result in a case of wrongful death, and a prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted.
The legal proceedings were prompted by a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five daughters against Luque, whom they blamed for their father’s deteriorating condition after the brain operation.
Maradona underwent surgery on November 3, just four days after he celebrated his 60th birthday at the club he coached, Gimnasia y Esgrima. However, he appeared in poor health then, and had trouble speaking.
‘Deficiencies and irregularities’
Maradona had battled cocaine and alcohol addictions during his life.
He was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died. Two of the football great’s daughters have accused Luque of responsibility in Maradona’s deteriorating health.
The panel concluded that Maradona “would have had a better chance of survival” with adequate treatment in an appropriate medical facility. He died in his bed in a rented house in an exclusive Buenos Aires neighborhood, where he was receiving home care.
Maradona did not have “full use of his mental faculties” and should not have been left to decide where he would be treated, the experts said. They also found that his treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and the medical team had left his survival “to fate”.
Sebastian Sanchi, a former spokesman for Maradona, told AFP, “it is clear that the panel says that things were not done right.” Maradona is an idol to millions of Argentines after he inspired the South American country to only its second World Cup triumph in 1986.
An attacking midfielder who spent two years with Spanish giants Barcelona, he is also loved in Naples where he helped Napoli win the only two Serie A titles in the club’s history.