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ARGENTINA | 18-04-2023 15:33

Eight accused of wrongdoing in Maradona's death will stand trial, rules court

Members of Diego Maradona's eight-strong medical team will stand trial for their alleged role into legendary footballer's death and face between 8 and 25 years in jail.

Eight healthcare professionals will stand trial for their alleged role in the 2020 death of legendary footballer and national icon Diego Maradona, an appeals court in Argentina ruled on Tuesday.

Rejecting defence appeals, the Court of Appeals and Guarantees of San Isidro ruled that neurosurgeon and family doctor Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov and six other medical personnel should face trial on the charge of "simple homicide with malice aforethought," as requested by the prosecutors and judges leading the case last year.

Nursing coordinator Mariano Perroni, nurses Ricardo Almirón and Gisella Madrid, psychologist Carlos Díaz, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini and clinician Pedro Pablo Di Spagna will also be in the dock for the trial, which is likely to begin in 2024.

All the accused face between eight and 25 years in jail if found guilty of homicide with potential aggravating circumstances. Defence lawyers had sought a lighter charge from the appeals court, involuntary or "culpable homicide" (carrying a lesser penalty of between one and five years behind bars), but Judges Carlos Fabián Blanco, Gustavo Adrián Herbel and Ernesto García Maañón upheld the charge sheet drawn up prosecutors. 

The initial accusation of homicide with "dolus eventualis" holds a person responsible for negligence while knowing that such conduct could lead to death.

No date has been set for the trial of the eight over Maradona's death in 2020, which prosecutors say was due to "omissions" by his caregivers who abandoned him "to his fate" during home hospitalisation. 

Defence lawyers can still appeal to the Buenos Aires Province Cassation Court. 

Maradona, Argentina’s greatest and most famous footballer, died aged 60 on November 25, 2020, while recovering from brain surgery for a blood clot. 

‘El Diez' – who for decades had struggled with cocaine and alcohol addictions – was found dead in bed two weeks after going under the knife, in a rented house in a private neighbourhood of San Andrés, to where he was brought after being discharged from hospital. He was later found to have died of a heart attack.

A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina's public prosecutor concluded in 2021 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 retired footballer and coach to his fate for a "prolonged, agonising period" leading up to his death.

The judge leading the case, Orlando Díaz, cited a report from the prosecutors in his submission to the appeals court, which described the work of the medical team that treated Maradona as "reckless" and "deficient.”

 

– TIMES/NA/AFP

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