there will be a trial of health professionals


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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentines will know how their “God” died. Eight health professionals will be tried for manslaughter with aggravating circumstances, potential negligence, at the end of the investigation into the death in 2020 of Diego Maradona, with a worn body, alone on a convalescent bed.

A judge from San Isidro (north of Buenos Aires) followed on Wednesday the prosecution’s requisitions in April, and sent these practitioners to trial, including a neurosurgeon and attending physician, a clinical doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a nurse manager, nurses.

Maradona died of a cardio-respiratory crisis on November 25, 2020 at the age of 60, alone, on a medical bed at a residence in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires, where he was recovering from neurosurgery for a hematoma on the head.

The former football star suffered from multiple pathologies: kidney and liver problems, heart failure, neurological deterioration and addiction to alcohol and psychotropic drugs.

The death of Maradona, considered one of the greatest geniuses in football, an idol in Argentina with whom he had won the 1986 World Cup, had created a planetary shock wave and upset Argentina. Tens of thousands of people had participated in the funeral vigil of his remains around the presidential palace.

Diego Maradona in Napoli November 26, 2013 CARLO HERMANN, CARLO HERMANN AFP/Archives

The eight suspects are facing trial for “simple homicide with dolus eventualis”, an offense which is characterized when a person commits negligence knowing that it could lead to someone’s death.

The neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, the psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, the psychologist Carlos Diaz, the medical coordinator Nancy Forlini, the nursing coordinator Mariano Perroni, the nurses Ricardo Almiron and Dahiana Madrid, the clinical doctor Pedro Pablo Di Spagna will thus have to appear.

No trial date

In his recitals, Judge Orlando Diaz considered that “each of the defendants, by the place he specifically occupied in the overall configuration (…) would have exercised joint control of the facts”, determining the final event “in depending on the contributions of each of them”.

The magistrate noted “the absence of intervention, of any saving action which could have prevented death”.

They face sentences ranging from 8 to 25 years in prison but should appear free at trial, the San Isidro prosecutor’s office having never requested their pre-trial detention.

Aerial view of the burial of Diego Maradona, at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, November 26, 2020
Aerial view of the burial of Diego Maradona, at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, November 26, 2020 Emiliano LASALVIA AFP

No date has been put forward at this stage for the holding of the trial.

According to prosecutors, the staff in charge of Maradona had been “protagonist of an unprecedented, totally deficient and reckless hospitalization at home”, and had committed a “series of improvisations, mismanagement and defaults”.

A damning expert report, produced in May 2021 by a medical commission as part of the investigation, concluded that the former player had been “left to his fate” by his medical team, leading him to a “period of ‘prolonged agony’.

Doctors ‘did nothing’

The suspects had all during their hearings, defended their actions, within the framework of their field of competence, at the bedside of the champion. By sending the ball back into the court of other professionals.

Thus Leopoldo Luque, attending physician and confidant of Maradona, said he was “proud of what (he) did”, ensuring at all times that he had “tried to help” Maradona. He was “a family doctor, not in charge of home hospitalization”, his lawyer had pointed out.

Leopoldo Luque, attending physician and confidant of Maradona, arrives at the San Isidro court to testify, on June 28, 2021 in Argentina
Leopoldo Luque, attending physician and confidant of Maradona, arrives at the San Isidro court to testify, on June 28, 2021 in Argentina JUAN MABROMATA AFP/Archives

The psychologist Diaz had estimated that his work as an addiction specialist had had “no kind of interference” with the death, this one having had “nothing to do with a clinical or psychiatric question”.

And the nurse Dahiana Madrid, who had discovered Maradona lifeless, had assured to have only “comply with the indications of the doctors”. There were “a lot of warning signs that Maradona was going to die overnight. And none of the doctors did anything to prevent it,” his lawyer pleaded.

The prosecution had opened an investigation, looking for possible negligence or recklessness, following statements by two daughters of Diego Maradona, pointing in particular to Dr. Luque.

Diego Maradona crowned world champion, June 29, 1986 in Mexico
Diego Maradona crowned world champion, June 29, 1986 in Mexico STAFF AFP/Archives

Other procedures remain pending in the posthumous wake of the legendary footballer: a civil procedure, on the sharing of the inheritance of Maradona, to the five recognized children. And a procedure between his two eldest daughters and his lawyer for the commercial use of the mark or the name.

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