Football icon Diego Maradona received inadequate medical care and was left to his fate for a “prolonged, agonising period” before his death last year, an expert medical panel has concluded.
The 60-year-old Argentinian succumbed to a heart attack on November 25, just weeks after undergoing brain surgery on a blood clot. His passing prompted a period of national mourning in Argentina and brought a global outpouring of grief.
Shortly after, Argentina’s public prosecutor convened a panel of 20 experts to examine the cause of death and 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.
In a 70-page document, the panel stated on Friday Maradona “started to die at least 12 hours before” the moment he was found dead in his bed. The finding could result in a case of wrongful death, and a prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted.
“The action of the health team in charge of treating DAM (Diego Armando Maradona) was inadequate, deficient and reckless,” said the medical board report dated April 30 and shared with Reuters news agency by a source close to the investigation.
“He presented unequivocal signs of a prolonged agonising period, so we conclude that the patient was not properly monitored from 00:30 on 11/25/2020,” the report added.
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. 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”.
Maradona is an idol to millions of Argentinians after he inspired the 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.