An independent medical panel has concluded that football legend Diego Maradona received insufficient medical treatment and was left to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing time” before his death last year.
On November 25, the 60-year-old Argentine died of a heart attack, just weeks after having brain surgery for a blood clot. His death triggered a time of national mourning in Argentina, as well as a global outpouring of grief.
Shortly after, Argentina’s public prosecutor assembled a group of 20 experts to investigate the cause of death and decide whether any negligence occurred. Maradona’s neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, and psychologist Carlos Diaz, as well as two nurses, a nursing coordinator, and a medical coordinator, are being investigated.
The panel claimed in a 70-page document on Friday that Maradona “started to die at least 12 hours before” he was discovered dead in his house. If convicted, the finding could lead to a wrongful death case and a jail term of up to 15 years.
“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.
On November 3, Maradona underwent surgery, just four days after celebrating his 60th birthday at the club he coached, Gimnasia y Esgrima.
However, he seemed to be in ill health at the time and had difficulty speaking. Throughout his life, Maradona fought cocaine and alcohol addictions. When he died, he was suffering from liver, kidney, and cardiovascular problems.
Two of Maradona’s daughters have blamed Luque for her father’s declining health. The panel agreed that Maradona “would have had a greater chance of survival” if he had received proper care in a suitable medical facility.
He died in his bed in a rented house in an affluent neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where he was providing home treatment. According to the experts, Maradona did not have “complete use of his mental faculties” and could not have been left to determine where he would be treated.
They also discovered that his care was riddled with “deficiencies and anomalies,” and that the medical staff had abandoned his survival to “chance.”
Maradona is revered by millions of Argentinians as the man who inspired the nation to its only World Cup victory in 1986.
An attacking midfielder who spent two years with Spanish giants Barcelona, he is also well-liked in Naples, where he helped Napoli secure the club’s first two Serie A titles.