Buenos Aires, Argentina – Argentine prosecutors will question Diego Maradona’s personal physician on Monday, along with six other medical professionals who neglected the ailing football icon in his final days.
The presence of Leopoldo Luk, 39, will kick off a two-week process of questioning seven, who appeared one by one to explain their case.
A judge will next decide whether to order a trial, a process that can take years. If found guilty, the suspects could face between eight and 25 years in prison.
Seven people were placed under investigation for murder after a board of experts probing Maradona’s death found they had received inadequate care and were left to their fate for a “long, painful period”. .
The sports legend died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.
An investigation was launched after two of Maradona’s five children filed a complaint against neurosurgeon Luke, whom they blame for their father’s decline after the operation.
A panel of 20 medical experts convened by the Argentine public prosecutor said last month that Maradona’s treatment was full of “shortcomings and irregularities” and that the medical team had left his survival “up to fate”.
The panel concluded that they “would have had a better chance of survival” with adequate treatment in an appropriate medical facility.
Instead, he died alone in his bed in a rented house in an exclusive Buenos Aires neighborhood, where he was receiving home care.
‘I did my best’
Luke has repeatedly denied guilt, and recently said “I am proud of what I did” to help the patient, whom he described as his friend.
“I did my best. I gave Diego everything I could: some things he accepted, others not,” he said.
Doctors are calling for the case to be dismissed and say that Maradona was depressed in his last days.
“I know the (coronavirus) quarantine hit him very hard,” Luke has said.
He may decline to answer questions on Monday and instead submit a written statement.
Last week, the lawyer for co-accused nurse Dahian Madrid, 36, told prosecutors that the doctors in charge “killed Diego.”
“In the end, there were many warning signs that Maradona was going to die, give or take one day. And no doctor did anything to stop it,” lawyer Rodolfo Bach said at the time.
The other five people under suspicion are nurse Ricardo Almirone, 37; Nursing coordinator Mariano Peroni, 40; medical coordinator Nancy Forlini, 52; Psychologist Carlos Diaz, 29; and psychiatrist Agustina Kosakov, 36.
Everyone has denied responsibility for Maradona’s death.
Kosachov, who appeared before prosecutors on Friday, denied that the mental medication he was given could have contributed to Maradona’s heart condition.
Maradona struggled with cocaine and alcohol addiction for years.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiac disorders when he passed away.
Maradona is a role model for Argentina’s millions when he led the South American nation to only its second World Cup victory in 1986.
His death shocked fans around the world, and thousands queued to file his coffin wrapped in the Argentine flag at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires amid three days of national mourning.