Maradona's doctor denies accusations of foul play

Leopoldo Luque, doctor of Diego Maradona (above), seen with his wife Romina (right), had his house searched after a probe was ordered into the footballer's death.
Leopoldo Luque, doctor of Diego Maradona (above), had his house searched after a probe was ordered into the footballer's death.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Leopoldo Luque, doctor of Diego Maradona (above), seen with his wife Romina (right), had his house searched after a probe was ordered into the footballer's death.
Leopoldo Luque, doctor of Diego Maradona, seen with his wife Romina, had his house searched after a probe was ordered into the footballer's death.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BUENOS AIRES • Diego Maradona's personal doctor has denied responsibility for the Argentinian legend's death after police raided his house and clinic on Sunday.

"I feel terrible because my friend has died," Leopoldo Luque told reporters at his Buenos Aires home.

"I'm not the one who is responsible for all of this. I know what I did with Diego and I know how I did it. I can explain it all. I'm absolutely certain I did the best that could have been done for Diego."

Police seized laptops, medical records and mobile devices during the three-hour raid, part of a probe to determine whether there was negligence on the part of the physician. The search was ordered by a judge following preliminary investigations, which included evidence from Maradona's daughters, Jana, Dalma and Giannina.

It was the latest soap-operatic turn since Maradona died aged 60 last Wednesday, plunging the country into three days of national mourning. Less than a month after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain, the 1986 World Cup winner suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Tigre, just north of the capital.

Despite well-publicised health issues, Maradona's death caught many by surprise. Conspiracy theories, scandals and suspicions of foul play have since emerged.

Although the former Barcelona and Napoli star died in his sleep, his lawyer, Matias Morla, claimed that an ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive.

Calling it "criminal idiocy", he has requested a probe into the death, although prosecutors have disputed that timeline, saying the ambulance arrived in 12 minutes.

Another of Maradona's former doctors, Alfredo Cahe, also felt his death was "unusual," insisting a medical professional should have been stationed in his room and that the former Argentina skipper should have stayed in the hospital after his operation.

But Luque disputed that allegation, adding that no one could force Maradona to stay in the hospital against his will. He also said he had cooperated with law enforcement and was ready to answer any questions from prosecutors.

"You want to know what I am responsible for? For having loved him, for having taken care of him, for having extended his life, for having improved it to the end," Luque said, revealing Maradona was not under his care after he was discharged on Nov 12.

"If you ask me, I'm a neurosurgeon and my job ended. I was done with him. He (Maradona) should have gone to a rehabilitation centre. He didn't want to."

Luque also painted a picture of a patient who was "very difficult" and "kicked me out of his house many times" and had to be convinced to take care of his health.

Argentina's state news agency Telam said investigators were trying to establish if Maradona had received 24-hour care from medical staff in the days before his death, one of the conditions of his discharge from hospital.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2020, with the headline 'Maradona's doctor denies accusations of foul play'. Print Edition | Subscribe