Eight medical personnel will stand trial for alleged criminal negligence in the death of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, according to a court ruling made public on Wednesday.
No date has been set for the trial of the staff over Maradona’s death in 2020, which prosecutors say was due to “omissions” by his caregivers who abandoned him “to his fate” during home hospitalization.
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Maradona died aged 60 while recovering from brain surgery for a blood clot, and after decades of battles with cocaine and alcohol addictions.
He was found dead in bed two weeks after going under the knife, in a rented house in an exclusive Buenos Aires neighborhood to where he was brought after being discharged from hospital.
He was found to have died of a heart attack.
A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor concluded last year that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities.”
It said the footballer “would have had a better chance of survival” with adequate treatment in an appropriate medical facility.
The experts found his caregivers had abandoned the idolized player to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing period” leading up to his death.
– ‘Reckless’ treatment –
Charged in the case are neurosurgeon and family doctor Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, psychologist Carlos Diaz, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini and four others including two nurses.
Prosecutors had asked that the defendants be tried for negligent homicide, stating they “were the protagonists of an unprecedented, totally deficient and reckless hospitalization at home.”
They risk sentences ranging from eight to 25 years in prison. All have denied responsibility.
An investigation was opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five children against Luque, whom they blame for their father’s deterioration after the operation.
Maradona is widely considered one of the greatest footballers in history.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star suffered from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.
He became an idol to millions of Argentines after he inspired the South American country to only their second World Cup triumph in 1986.
The court ruling ordering the composition of a trial bench came as Argentina celebrated its Day of the Footballer commemorating Maradona’s performance in the 1986 quarter final against England — when he scored the infamous “hand of God” goal and then the “Goal of the Century” as voted in a FIFA poll.
His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires amid three days of national mourning.