Diego Maradona was ‘unmanageable’ and should have been sent to rehab, said his personal surgeon who is being investigated over involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors in San Isidro, near Buenos Aires, said they were investigating Leopoldo Luque over possible medical negligence and police raided his doctor’s surgery and home on Sunday.
But Luque said the footballing icon was a difficult person to control, and he would often kick the surgeon out of his house, and he has been made a ‘scapegoat’ for the Argentinian’s death.
Diego Maradona was ‘unmanageable’ and should have been sent to rehab, said his personal surgeon Leopoldo Luque
Maradona’s death is being treated as possible manslaughter and police have raided the home of his personal doctor (pictured together)
A statement from the prosecutors’ office later said they had begun analysing material gathered and clarified that ‘no decisions have been made at the moment regarding the procedural situation of any person.’
The probe was triggered by concerns raised by Maradona’s daughters Dalma, Gianinna and Jana over the treatment he received for his heart condition at his home in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires, judicial sources said.
Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday aged 60, and was buried on Thursday at the Jardin de Paz cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.
‘Our investigations are ongoing, we are talking to witnesses including members of the family’ of Maradona, a source close to the San Isidro inquiry said.
Members of the Argentine Police carry items during a break-in to collect evidence at Luque’s office
Maradona died of ‘acute lung edema and chronic heart failure’, according to a preliminary autopsy report. He died in his sleep at noon while resting at his home in Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday. Pictured, Maradona’s coffin
‘The clinic had recommended that he go elsewhere to be hospitalised, but the family decided otherwise. His daughters signed for him to be discharged from the hospital,’ said a family member, on the condition of anonymity.
Later in the day, Luque, who is no relation to Maradona’s former Argentina team-mate of the same name, gave an emotional televised news conference.
Luque broke down in tears as he insisted he had done everything possible to assist the retired footballer in his first interview since investigators launched their shock operation to try to establish whether Maradona had been the victim of medical negligence.
Neurologist Leopoldo Luque, Diego Maradona’s former personal doctor, talks with journalists at his home in Buenos Aires today after police raided his home as part of ongoing investigation
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he insisted in a hastily-arranged press conference at his home near Buenos Aires which lasted nearly 40 minutes a ‘friend’ had died and Diego was his own worst enemy when it came to accepting help from professionals.
‘You want to know what I am responsible for?’ the 39-year-old doctor asked between sobs. ‘For having loved him, for having taken care of him, for having extended his life, for having improved it to the end.’
Luque said ‘someone is trying to find a scapegoat’ where there isn’t one, and claimed he did ‘everything he could, up to the impossible’ and considered himself a ‘friend’ of Maradona and saw him ‘as a father, not as a patient’.
He said: ‘I was shocked when police turned up at my door. I’m going to co-operate fully.
‘I know what I did and what I did was for Diego’s benefit until the last moment. I did the best I could.
Police stand guard the entrance of Dr. Leopoldo Luque’s practice in Buenos Aires, Argentina
‘I feel terrible because a friend died. I don’t blame myself for anything. It’s very unfair what’s happening.
‘I didn’t see Diego’s daughters a lot but the rest of his family, his siblings and his nephews adore me.
‘Someone is trying to find a scapegoat here when I don’t see one anywhere.
‘We all did the best we could with Diego.’
Insisting Diego had a problem with pills and alcohol, he added: ‘He punished himself in a way I wasn’t going to allow, not as a doctor but as a friend.
Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s former personal doctor, leaves Olivos Clinic where late soccer star remained hospitalized after undergoing an operation in Buenos Aires earlier this month
Leopoldo Luque speaks with journalists at a press conference outside the clinic where he underwent brain surgery for a blood clot, in Olivos, Buenos Aires province, earlier this month
Maradona handles the ball past Peter Shilton to open the scoring in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England
Luque had posted a photograph of himself with Maradona when the former player left hospital on November 12, eight days after the doctor operated to remove a brain blood clot. Maradona returned home to Tigre where he received round-the-clock medical care and could remain close to his daughters.
‘He should have gone to a rehabilitation centre. He didn’t want to,’ said Luque who called Maradona ‘unmanageable’.
Luque said he did not know why there was no defibrillator in case of a heart attack in Maradona’s home in Tigre, and made clear that the home care was not his responsibility.
‘I am a neurosurgeon,’ said Luque.
Maradona was one of the most gifted sportsmen of all time, almost single-handedly inspiring Argentina to win the World Cup in Mexico in 1986
Napoli’s players and Roma’s players observe a minute of silence in memory of Diego Armando Maradona prior the Italian Serie A soccer match SSC Napoli vs AS Roma, Naples, Italy, today
‘I am the person who has been taking care of him. I’m proud of everything I’ve done. I have nothing to hide. I am at the disposal of justice.’
Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, had called for an investigation into claims that ambulances took more than half an hour to reach the football star’s house in response to an emergency call on the day of his death.
Luque said an ambulance should have been parked outside.
‘A psychiatrist had asked that there should always be an ambulance in front of his house. I don’t know who is responsible for the fact that there was no ambulance,’ Luque said.
A banner reading in Italian ‘Heart…Naples swears to you eternal love’ to honor Diego Maradona is displayed in the stands prior to the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Roma tonight
Maradona (C) is kissed by his daughters Giannina (L) and Dalma as he arrives to attend the screening of Serbian director Emir Kusturica’s documentary film ‘Maradona by Kusturica’ at the 61st Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes in 2008
Diego ‘was very sad, he wanted to be alone, and it’s not because he didn’t love his daughters, his family, or those around him,’ Luque said. ‘He was brave.’
A judicial source told AFP that no official complaint has yet been filed.
‘The case was initiated because he is a person who died at home and no one signed his death certificate. It does not mean there are suspicions or irregularities,’ the source said, requesting to remain anonymous.
A preliminary autopsy report established that Maradona died in his sleep at noon on Wednesday of ‘acute lung oedema and chronic heart failure’.
The prosecutor’s office is awaiting the results of toxicological tests on Maradona’s body. The three prosecutors working on the case have requested his medical records, as well as recordings from neighbourhood security cameras.