No charges laid but late legend's doc fights back

BUENOS AIRES • The doctor of Diego Maradona on Monday sought out the prosecutors who are investigating his treatment of the Argentinian football superstar before he died last week, but was turned away because he has not been charged with a crime.

The probe into the icon's death prompted prosecutors to search the home and office of Leopoldo Luque on Sunday. They took medical files but did not charge him or say what prompted the investigation.

Luque has since gone on a media offensive. He has done extensive press interviews and let the media know he would appear at the district attorney's office, which is conducting the probe, in the Buenos Aires suburb of San Isidro.

He turned up at the office to give a statement but he was not allowed to do so "because he is not formally charged", his lawyer Mara Digiuni tweeted.

It was the latest soap-operatic turn since Maradona died in his sleep aged 60 last Wednesday, plunging Argentina into three days of national mourning.

Widely perceived as one of the game's best players, he had a rags-to-riches story that took him from a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to global celebrity - a journey that resonated with many Argentinians. He achieved semi-divine status at home after leading Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup but struggled with addiction for years.

Tens of thousands gathered in lines that were 20 blocks deep last Thursday to pay their last respects as his body lay in state at the presidential palace.

Representatives said Maradona died of a heart attack at his home in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires. The star had been plagued with medical problems and underwent brain surgery for a subdural haematoma last month.

Members of Maradona's family have said his death was avoidable. An ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, claimed Matias Morla, a lawyer for Maradona, calling it "criminal idiocy" and adding that he would request an investigation. But prosecutors have disputed that timeline and said the ambulance arrived in 12 minutes.

Another former doctor for Maradona, Alfredo Cahe, called his death "unusual", adding that a doctor should have been stationed in his room and that Maradona should have stayed in the hospital after his operation.

Luque disputes that allegation, claiming no one could force the former star to do so against his will.

Talking to reporters on Sunday afternoon, he said he had he cooperated with law enforcement and was ready to answer any questions. The neurosurgeon painted a picture of a superstar who was "very difficult" and had to be convinced to take care of his health.

Maradona "kicked me out of his house many times", he added.

"Diego was tired, tired of being 'Maradona'," he said.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2020, with the headline 'No charges laid but late legend's doc fights back'. Subscribe