Maradona’s doctor in crosshairs of investigation into soccer icon’s death

Buenos Aires, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- Neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, who treated soccer icon Diego Maradona, finds himself in the crosshairs of a legal investigation seeking to determine if any negligence occurred surrounding the player’s death last Wednesday at age 60.

On Monday morning, five days after the death of iconic “No. 10” – for his long-time jersey number – from a heart attack, Luque, who up to now has not been charged with any crime but whose home and medical office were the targets of several police searches on Sunday, decided to show up at the office of the prosecutor in charge of the case to learn what the situation was and how it affects him, but he made no statement to authorities because he has not been formally charged.

“Those who were at Maradona’s side know what happened and what Luque’s actions were, which were perfect. He performed a neurosurgical operation on (Maradona) and everything went perfectly,” Julio Rivas, Luque’s attorney, told reporters regarding the treatment provided to the former soccer great for a cerebral hematoma on Nov. 3.

After that operation, Maradona, who had a long history of addiction, substance abuse and other health problems, was released from the hospital on Nov. 11 and taken to a house in a private neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to recover, but he died there last Wednesday.

During the time Maradona was hospitalized, Luque was the main physician tasked with providing the press with reports on the patient’s condition, and he came to be presented in the media as the player’s lead doctor, something that Luque denied and now, after Maradona’s death, he is the focus of controversy due to the alleged responsibility he should have taken regarding the patient’s general health.

Rivas said that his client did not head the medical team: “That was clear and will be explained,” he said, adding that Luque “was a friend of Maradona.”

“Coincidentally, he was a doctor and Diego, because of their friendship, trusted him. It’s very difficult, Maradona did not trust anyone but he trusted him,” said the attorney, adding that “the prosecutor can do what he thinks is appropriate,” but regardless of whether or not Luque is charged he “will make a statement” on the matter.

Maria Digiuni, another of Luque’s attorneys, said at the door of the Attorney General’s Office that properties owned by her client were raided, as were other sites to gather documentation that the authorities consider necessary for their investigation.

Last Thursday, the day after Maradona died, his attorney and friend Matias Morla said that he would ask for an investigation into the star’s death because it was “inexplicable that for 12 hours” there had been no medical “attention or monitoring (provided) by health personnel” and because the ambulance “took more than half an hour to arrive.”

But the attorney came out on Monday in Luque’s defense on Twitter, writing: “I understand and agree with the work of the Attorney General’s Office, but only I know, Dr. Luque, what you did for Diego’s health, how you cared for him, were at his side and how he loved you. Diego loved you and, as your friend, I’m not going to leave you alone. You spilled blood, sweat and tears and the truth will always win.”

In recent hours, the AG’s Office – located in the Buenos Aires district of San Isidro, began analyzing the materials seized and the team of prosecutors must determine what measures to take to move forward regarding whether or not a homicide or an abandonment of a person occurred.

In an interview with the press, Luque emphasized on Sunday that “there was no medical error” involved in Maradona’s death, but rather that it was “a chance event, a heart attack that, in a patient with his characteristics, is the most common thing in the world.”

“If somehow I’m responsible for Diego it was for loving him, caring for him, prolonging his life and improving it right to the end. I’m responsible for that. I did the impossible to achieve that,” Luque said amid tears.

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